DOJ Requests Longer Prison Sentences For January 6th Defendants

In papers filed on Wednesday, the Justice Department informed the court that it would be appealing the sentences given to several Oath Keepers, including founder Stewart Rhodes’ 18-year sentence for seditious conspiracy, the Associated Press reported.

The 18-year sentence Rhodes received was below the recommended federal guidelines and less than the 25 years prosecutors had requested.

While it is routine for defendants to appeal their sentence, it is unusual for prosecutors to do so since judges have discretion in determining the length of a prison term.

James Lee Bright, Rhodes’ attorney called the DOJ’s notice of appeal “surprising.”

Rhodes, who was found guilty of seditious conspiracy, was given the longest prison term of any of the thousands of January 6 defendants sentenced so far.

During May’s sentencing hearing, Rhodes described himself as a “political prisoner” and attempted to minimize his involvement in the January 6 riot at the Capitol.

US District Judge Amit Mehta said in the sentencing hearing that he agreed with prosecutors that the Oath Keepers’ actions could be viewed as terrorism which would increase the recommended sentence under federal guidelines. However, Judge Mehta ultimately went below the sentences for each defendant requested by prosecutors.

In addition to seeking to appeal Rhodes’ sentence, the Justice Department also filed notices that they plan to appeal the sentences of the other Oath Keepers convicted, including Florida chapter head Kelly Meggs, who was also convicted of seditious conspiracy and sentenced to 12 years in prison, far below the 21 years requested by prosecutors.

Three others tried with Rhodes were acquitted of seditious conspiracy but were convicted of other felonies.

Four other Oath Keepers were convicted of seditious conspiracy at a separate trial in January. 

According to CNN, Wednesday’s filings did not include legal arguments for why the Justice Department is appealing the sentences, instead, the filings only informed the court of the DOJ’s intent to appeal.