The founder and leader of the far-right Oath Keepers militia group remained in jail after his first court appearance on Friday, a day after his arrest on charges he plotted with others to attack the U.S. Capitol to stop Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory.
The seditious conspiracy charges against Stewart Rhodes and 10 other Oath Keepers members or associates are the first to be levied in connection with the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021. They’re also the first to be brought by the Justice Department in over a decade.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Kimberly Priest Johnson ordered Rhodes, 56, of Granbury, Texas, to be held in custody until a detention hearing next Thursday in the Dallas suburb of Plano.
Rhodes appeared in court wearing heavy boots, blue jeans, a faded black Carhartt T-shirt and a blue medical mask. He walked into the courtroom shackled at the wrists and ankles.
After the hearing, Rhodes’ lawyers said he entered a not guilty plea, plans to fight the charges against him and should be released. Defense attorneys Phillip Linder and James Lee Bright said Rhodes has no criminal history, no passport and is not a flight risk.
Bright and Linder said Rhodes has been living in Texas for a year and a half but they could not say what brought him to the state. They said he had no family present at the Friday hearing.
An Arizona man who was charged in the same indictment as Rhodes and other Oath Keepers members also made his first court appearance on Friday. U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Fine ordered Edward Vallejo, 63, of Phoenix, to remain jailed until a detention hearing next Thursday.
Rhodes and Vallejo were arrested Thursday. The nine others charged in the seditious conspiracy indictment already had been indicted on charges related to the Capitol siege.
Earlier Friday, the top leader of another far-right extremist group with members charged in the Capitol riot was released from jail in Washington, D.C. Proud Boys chairman Henry “Enrique” Tarrio served a five-month jail sentence in a case that wasn’t directly related to the Capitol riot.
Video posted on social media showed Tarrio emerging from the jail building and hugging loved ones, carrying his belongings in several white plastic trash bags.
“I feel great,” he told reporters as he loaded his bags into a car.
Tarrio was arrested in Washington two days before the Capitol riot and charged with burning a Black Lives Matter banner that had been ripped from a local Black church during an earlier rally by then-President Donald Trump’s supporters. Tarrio pleaded guilty to destruction of property and attempted possession of a large-capacity ammunition feeding device.
Tarrio noted that the city’s jail facility still holds several defendants charged in the Capitol riot.
“I’m more worried about them than I was about myself,” Tarrio said.
The indictment charging Rhodes and other Oath Keepers with seditious conspiracy says they discussed trying to overturn the election results and preparing for a siege by purchasing weapons and setting up battle plans. On Jan. 6, several …read more
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