Salem Radio Network News Thursday, September 28, 2023


Oath Keeper sentenced to 3 years in prison for sedition in US Capitol attack

(Corrects first name of Oath Keeper Minuta to Roberto instead of Robert, paragraph 15)

By Jacqueline Thomsen

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Oath Keepers militant group member David Moerschel was sentenced on Friday to three years in prison for seditious conspiracy and other crimes arising from the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by then-President Donald Trump’s supporters.

U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta said that Moerschel transporting weapons, including a semiautomatic AR-15 rifle, to the Washington area ahead of Jan. 6 brought “its own degree of danger” because of his political motivations.

But the judge said that he was less culpable than other Oath Keepers convicted in the Capitol attack.

Prosecutors had asked U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta to sentence Moerschel to 10 years. One of his co-defendants, Joseph Hackett, will be sentenced later Friday, and prosecutors are seeking 12 years in prison for him.

Mehta since last week has sentenced six other members of the far-right Oath Keepers to prison terms ranging from three to 18 years.

Hackett and Moerschel were convicted of seditious conspiracy – a felony charge involving attempts “to overthrow, put down or to destroy by force the government of the United States” – as well as obstructing an official proceeding and conspiracy to prevent members of Congress from discharging their duties.

Hackett also was convicted of tampering with documents or proceedings.

Both men were among a group of Oath Keepers who breached the Capitol on the day of the attack, clad in paramilitary gear. The attack was intended to prevent Congress from certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s victory over Trump, a Republican, in the November 2020 U.S. presidential election. Hackett and Moerschel were near the House of Representatives chamber as lawmakers were gathered for the certification process.

In an emotional statement, Moerschel said that when he was in the Capitol on Jan. 6, “I felt like God was saying to me, ‘Get out of here,’ and I didn’t. And I disobeyed God and I broke laws.”

Moerschel’s lawyer on Friday asked that this client be sentenced to home detention or minimal incarceration. “He has lived an exemplary life other than those 11 minutes” Moerschel was in the Capitol building, attorney Scott Weinberg said.

Prosecutor Troy Edwards said that Moerschel’s bringing of guns to a Virginia hotel near Washington merited a strong sentence. “When he came to this district, he brought weapons of war and he wanted his guy,” Edwards said, referring to Trump. “And he was ready to act.”

The two men are among six Oath Keepers found guilty of seditious conspiracy. Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, a former U.S. Army paratrooper turned Yale University-educated lawyer, last week was sentenced to 18 years in prison, the longest sentence handed down yet over the Jan. 6 attack.

Prosecutors in court papers described Hackett as a low-level leader in the Oath Keepers, and pointed to his call for the arrest of “corrupt politicians” as foreshadowing his actions at the Capitol including “forcing his way” toward the office of the leader of the House of Representatives.

Hackett’s lawyer in a separate legal filing asked that Mehta “primarily focus on alternatives to incarceration” in issuing a sentence.

Two other Oath Keepers convicted of seditious conspiracy, Roberto Minuta and Edward Vallejo, were sentenced on Thursday. Minuta was sentenced to 4-1/2 years in prison and Vallejo to three. Three others were sentenced last week to between four and 12 years in prison.

The judge has delayed the sentencing of Thomas Caldwell, another Oath Keepers member who acquitted on the seditious conspiracy charge but convicted of other crimes.

(Reporting by Jacqueline Thomsen in Washington; Editing by Will Dunham and Alistair Bell)


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