A federal judge sentenced leader of the Oath Keepers militia Stewart Rhodes to 18 years in prison on Thursday for his role in the January 6, 2021 US Capitol riot. Rhodes’ sentence is now the longest handed down in connection with the plot to disrupt the certification of the 2020 US presidential election.
Judge Amit Mehta sentenced Rhodes during a nearly four-hour, no-camera hearing in a federal district court in Washington DC. Before sentencing him, Mehta said to Rhodes, “You, sir, present an ongoing threat and peril to this country.” A jury found Rhodes guilty of seditious conspiracy in November 2022, which normally carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence. However, during sentencing, federal prosecutors asked Mehta to consider a terrorism enhancement to raise the potential sentence to 25 years in prison.
Mehta gave Rhodes a chance to speak prior to handing down the sentence. During that time, Rhodes referred to himself as a “political prisoner.”
Following the sentencing, Rhodes’ attorneys spoke to reporters outside the courthouse. They said that, based on what Mehta said to Rhodes prior to his sentencing, they expected a longer prison sentence. Regardless, they said Rhodes still intends to appeal the decision, citing potential violations of the US Constitution’s First Amendment protection of free speech.
Federal officials first arrested Rhodes in January 2022 on seditious conspiracy charges. Federal prosecutors then tried the case against Rhodes and four other individuals connected with the Oath Keepers and the Capitol riot in the fall of 2022. After eight weeks of trial, the jury convicted Rhodes and his co-defendants of seditious conspiracy and related charges. Thursday’s sentence brings to a close the trial portion of the case against Rhodes.
Rhodes’ sentence is the longest handed down by a federal court in connection with the Capitol riot.