By Sarah N. Lynch WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Two more members of the far-right Oath Keepers militant group were given multi-year prison sentences on Thursday 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 sentenced Roberto Minuta to […]
Two Oath Keepers convicted of sedition in US Capitol attack sentenced to prison
By Sarah N. Lynch
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Two more members of the far-right Oath Keepers militant group were given multi-year prison sentences on Thursday 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 sentenced Roberto Minuta to 4-1/2 years in prison and Edward Vallejo to three years in prison following their convictions by a jury in January – far less than the 17-year sentences the prosecution had recommended.
Both were sentenced one week after Mehta gave Stewart Rhodes, the group’s founder, 18 years in prison following his November conviction for seditious conspiracy – a felony charge involving attempts “to overthrow, put down or to destroy by force the government of the United States” – and other crimes.
Vallejo addressed Mehta before his sentencing, expressing remorse for his actions and, through tears, begged the judge to let him serve his sentence in home confinement rather than prison.
“I wish with all my soul I had never went. I greatly regret all of the foolish statements I made there,” Vallejo said.
“I wish I had never associated myself with Stewart Rhodes,” Vallejo added.
Vallejo was not at the Capitol on the day of the attack. Prosecutors said he stayed at a suburban Virginia hotel where the Oath Keepers had staged a “quick reaction force” and stashed firearms to be quickly ferried into Washington if needed.
Mehta said he decided to give Vallejo a lower sentence than prosecutors had sought for reasons including his age – 64 – the remorse he has expressed and because he did not enter the Capitol or harm law enforcement officers. Mehta also ordered Vallejo to serve a year of home confinement after his prison term during a three-year period of supervised release.
Prior to his sentencing, Minuta told the judge he regretted the violent and profane rhetoric he used on the day of the attack – captured on video and played for the jury during his trial in moments he said made him cringe.
“As a father, I would be embarrassed for my children to see me behave the way I did on that day,” Minuta said. “I’m sincerely disgusted by my behavior.”
Minuta, who provided a security detail to Trump ally Roger Stone during political rallies on the day of the attack, entered the Capitol with other Oath Keepers and, according to prosecutors, pushed past police officers while screaming obscene language.
Minuta told the judge he has since disavowed the Oath Keepers and feels “repulsed” by the lack of remorse shown by Rhodes.
Rhodes received the longest prison term given to any of the 1,000-plus people charged in the attack, which was intended to block Congress from certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s election victory over Republican Trump.
Mehta told Minuta he was not convicted based solely on his own words.
“It’s because your words reflected your state of mind. Your words gave us a window into what you were thinking and ultimately why you came to Washington,” Mehta said.
In addition to Rhodes, three other co-defendants were sentenced last week to between four and 12 years in prison. Two of those three were acquitted of seditious conspiracy but convicted on other felony counts.
Joseph Hackett and David Moerschel, co-defendants in the trial in which Minuta and Vallejo were convicted – are due to be sentenced on Friday. They too were convicted of seditious conspiracy and other crimes. The prosecution has recommended a sentence of 12 years in prison for Hackett and 10 for Moerschel.
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Will Dunham and Mark Porter)