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    Wednesday, June 12, 2024

    Six people affiliated with the Oath Keepers convicted in Capitol riot

    Members of the Oath Keepers extremist group stand on the East Front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

    Six people described by authorities as being affiliated with the right-wing extremist group the Oath Keepers were convicted Monday of numerous federal crimes related to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

    After a trial in U.S. District Court in Washington, the jury returned a total of 27 guilty verdicts, with every defendant convicted of at least one charge and most found guilty of several offenses. In all, the defendants faced 34 charges stemming from the Capitol riot. The jury, which is continuing to deliberate, issued not guilty verdicts on five counts and has yet to reach decisions on two others.

    Four of the defendants were convicted of the most serious offense in the case, conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding. Theirs was the latest of several trials dealing with the militia group's involvement in the Capitol mayhem.

    Authorities have described the defendants, ranging in age from their 20s to their 70s, as members or associates of the Oath Keepers. Five of them originally were charged in early 2021 with conspiracy and aiding and abetting the obstruction of an official proceeding of Congress. Their trial was separate from two different, higher-profile trials in which other defendants, including Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, were accused of seditious conspiracy.

    The five, all found guilty Monday of various crimes, were Connie Meggs, 60, of Dunnellon, Fla., whose husband, Kelly Meggs, was convicted of seditious conspiracy with Rhodes; Laura Steele, 53, of Thomasville, N.C., whose brother Graydon Young previously pleaded guilty to obstructing an official proceeding; married couple Bennie and Sandra Parker, 72 and 63, respectively, of the Cincinnati area; and William Isaacs, 23, of Kissimmee, Fla.

    They were accused of joining a group, or "stack," of Oath Keepers who climbed the East Capitol steps in single file and helped a mob of supporters of President Donald Trump force open the huge Columbus Doors. The rioters, acting on Trump's false assertion that voter fraud had denied him a second term in office, stormed the Capitol while Congress was meeting to confirm Joe Biden's victory in the November election.

    The sixth defendant, Michael Greene, 39, of Indianapolis, was charged and arrested in June 2022. Prosecutors accused Greene - previously identified in government filings only as "Person 10" or "Whip" - of serving as Rhodes's on-the-ground coordinator in Washington for the Oath Keepers security details for Republican VIPs on Jan. 6, 2021.

    Greene, who faced five charges, was convicted of trespassing on restricted grounds but was acquitted of three offenses. In his case, the jury has not yet reached a verdict on a charge of conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding.

    Meggs was convicted of all five charges she faced: two counts involving conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding and charges of preventing Congress from performing its duty, destruction of government property and trespassing on restricted grounds. Sandra Parker was convicted of the same crimes in addition to obstructing police officers.

    Jurors acquitted Bennie Parker of two offenses while convicting him of trespassing. In his case, the jury is still deliberating on a charge of conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding.

    Isaacs and Steele were found guilty of two counts involving conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding and charges of preventing Congress from performing its duty, destruction of government property and trespassing on restricted grounds. Isaacs also was convicted of two charges involving obstructing police officers, while Steele was also found guilty of obstructing police officers and tampering with evidence.

    Meggs was found guilty of two counts involving conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding and charges of preventing Congress from performing its duty, destruction of government property and trespassing on restricted grounds.

    Six members of the Oath Keepers, including Rhodes, have been convicted at trial of seditious conspiracy, and four others have pleaded guilty to the charge. Three of Rhodes associates were found not guilty of that charge but convicted of other felony charges including obstructing an official proceeding and aiding and abetting.

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