Justice Department appealing prison sentences given to convicted Oath Keepers members

Jul 13, 2023, 6:00 AM

Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers, center, speaks during a rally outside the White House ...

Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers, center, speaks during a rally outside the White House in Washington, June 25, 2017. Photo credit: Susan Walsh/AP/FILE

(CNN) — The Justice Department is appealing the sentences that eight convicted defendants tied to the Oath Keepers received for seditious conspiracy or other conspiracy charges related to their roles in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol.

Federal prosecutors working on the cases of Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes and others filed court papers Wednesday saying they are appealing the sentences set by a judge in late May. Some of the Oath Keepers who were sentenced had already filed their own appeals.

A ninth man tried in the case, Thomas Caldwell, hasn’t been sentenced yet and subsequently is not part of the group being appealed.

The appeals will keep alive tests in court of aspects of the case against the Oath Keepers, potentially generating new law around the seditious conspiracy offenses – a rare charge that marked the most aggressive and politically charged response to the Capitol riot to date from the Justice Department.

Wednesday’s filings did not provide the reasoning or legal arguments for the DOJ’s appeals, but several of the Oath Keepers’ sentences were well below what prosecutors had asked for in court.

For instance, Judge Amit Mehta sentenced Rhodes to 18 years in prison. Yet prosecutors had sought 25 years. Kelly Meggs, the leader of the Florida contingent of the group, received from Mehta a 12-year sentence, though prosecutors had sought 21 years. Meggs’ sentence is among those being appealed as well.

Attorneys for Rhodes and Meggs, who along with four other defendants were convicted of seditious conspiracy, didn’t provide responses to the DOJ’s appeal on Wednesday. A spokesperson for the US attorney’s office that prosecuted the cases and filed the appeals also didn’t immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.

The Oath Keepers’ sentences were the first handed down in more than a decade for seditious conspiracy. At his sentencing, Mehta told Rhodes the offense was “among the most serious crimes an American can commit” and that his and others’ actions amounted to domestic terrorism.

A jury had found Rhodes and others guilty of working together to plot and execute the January 6 attack, which included some of the group moving together in military gear into the Capitol complex and stashing guns across the river from the National Mall.

Others in the group received a fraction of Rhodes’ sentence from Mehta, though they were not all convicted of the same crimes as Rhodes. The Justice Department had sought at least 10 years in prison for each of the defendants tied to the far-right group who were tried and convicted at the beginning of this year.

On the day of Rhodes’ and Meggs’ sentencing, Attorney General Merrick Garland applauded his prosecutors for holding the Oath Keepers accountable through the case.

“Today’s sentences reflect the grave threat the actions of these defendants posed to our democratic institutions,” he said in a statement.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Crime, Police + Courts

Audience members duck in the crowd during a shooting attempt at a campaign rally for Republican pre...

Kennedy Camarena

Name of man killed in Butler, Pennsylvania campaign rally released

The Pennsylvania governor has released the name of the man who was killed in the Butler, Pennsylvania campaign rally on Saturday.

9 hours ago

The FBI has identified a suspect in the shooting that occurred at a campaign rally. Republican pres...

Kennedy Camarena

FBI identifies gunman involved in apparent assassination attempt of former President Trump

The FBI has identified the gunman who was involved with the apparent assassination attempt of former President Donald Trump.

12 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. President Donald Trump is whisked away by Secret Ser...

Simone Seikaly

PHOTOS: Shots fired at Trump rally, former president injured, spectator killed

Former President Donald Trump was injured by shots that were fired toward a campaign rally stage in Butler, Pa, on Saturday.

13 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is surround by U.S. Secret Service ...

Kyle Remund

Former President Trump issues statement after assassination attempt.

After surviving an assassination attempt, Former President Donald Trump has now issued a statement about the attack.

1 day ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is helped off the stage at a campai...

Kyle Remund

Utah leaders respond to shooting at Trump rally

After multiple gunshots were repoertedly fired at a Trump rally in Pennsylvania, Utah and national leaders spoke up about the attack.

1 day ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is surrounded by U.S. Secret Servic...


Shooting at Trump rally is being investigated as assassination attempt, AP sources say

A rally held by Former President Donald Trump was interrupted by gunshots fired in an assassination attempt on Saturday.

1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

A young woman smiles while reading the menu at a lakeside restaurant, enjoying the panoramic view o...

Bear Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau

The best restaurants to try in Bear Lake

Save this guide to the best restaurants in Bear Lake when you need to find a place to dine during your next visit.

Female leg stepping on weigh scales. Healthy lifestyle, food and sport concept....

Health Utah

Sustainable weight loss: the science-backed way to achieve it

Learn more about Debbie's weight loss journey with Health Utah, who have a unique weight loss philosophy for success.

Underwater shot of the fisherman holding the fish...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Your Bear Lake fishing guide

Bear Lake offers year-round fishing opportunities. By preparing ahead of time, you might go home with a big catch!

A group of people cut a purple ribbon...


Comcast announces major fiber network expansion in Utah

Comcast's commitment to delivering extensive coverage signifies a monumental leap toward a digitally empowered future for Utahns.

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

Justice Department appealing prison sentences given to convicted Oath Keepers members