Jan. 6 Oath Keeper Charged With Seditious Conspiracy Says He Was ‘Helping Get Law Enforcement Out of the Building’

'We were there as a force of good'
By Patricia Tolson
Patricia Tolson
Patricia Tolson
Reporter
Patricia Tolson, an award-winning national investigative reporter with 20 years of experience, has worked for such news outlets as Yahoo!, U.S. News, and The Tampa Free Press. With The Epoch Times, Patricia’s in-depth investigative coverage of human interest stories, election policies, education, school boards, and parental rights has achieved international exposure. Send her your story ideas: patricia.tolson@epochtimes.us
March 18, 2022 Updated: March 18, 2022

According to an indictment filed by the FBI, Roberto Minuta has been charged with seditious conspiracy for his presence at the Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021. Minuta says he was there as part of “a protective detail” that wound up “helping get law enforcement out of the building.”

In the Feb. 24, 2021, complaint, the FBI alleges that Minuta was at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, “equipped with military-style attire and gear, including apparel emblazoned with a crest related to the Oath Keepers Militia.” He appeared in federal court in White Plains, New York, on March 8, 2021, where he was charged with entering a restricted building or grounds and tampering with documents or proceedings, his second indictment.

“Later,” the complaint says, “Minuta and others affiliated with the Oath Keepers breached the U.S. Capitol grounds, where Minuta aggressively berated and taunted U.S. Capitol police officers responsible for protecting the Capitol and representatives inside the Capitol. Minuta then attacked the Capitol and obstructed Congressional proceedings with other attackers on January 6, 2021. Finally, on January 13, 2021, the week after he attacked the Capitol and after much media reporting on law enforcement’s investigation to bring Capitol rioters to justice, Minuta deleted his Facebook account of over 13 years.”

By the third indictment—filed in March 2021 and superseding the previous two indictments—the charges against Minuta evolved to conspiracy to obstruct Congress and entering or remaining in restricted grounds. However, while the indictment provides a lengthy and detailed outline of texts that were exchanged in a group chat between over a dozen people discussing the alleged conspiracy plot, it does not show where Minuta was ever involved in the discussions.

“Things have changed quite a bit since the initial complaint,” Minuta told The Epoch Times, saying one would “have to read the seventh superseding indictment to really see what their accusations are now. They dropped the charge for deleting my Facebook since then and also dropped the trespassing charge. The initial complaint involves those two charges. Neither of them are part of my charge anymore.”

The latest indictment alleges Minuta “marched in stack formation” up the Capitol steps with “co-conspirators” wearing “paramilitary clothing” and was part of a “second stack” that “breached the Capitol grounds, marching from the west side to the east side of the Capitol building” where they “forced their way past law enforcement officers.” For these allegations, he is charged with seditious conspiracy. He is also charged with conspiracy to obstruct official proceedings, obstruction of an official proceeding, and aiding and abetting and conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging any duties.

While the FBI makes repeated references to his clothing to suggest it proves malicious intent, Minuta insists his attire was chosen for his own protection. Minuta asserts he was only there that day as part of a security detail that volunteered to protect Roger Stone, who was scheduled to speak at two events during the Jan. 6 rallies. Despite the allegations of a conspiracy plot, Reuters reported the FBI has found no evidence that the breach of the Capitol was a coordinated attack. In addition, for the second time in eight days, U.S. District Judge Carl J. Nichols dismissed a felony obstruction charge alleging a Jan. 6 defendant tried to prevent the certification of Electoral College votes in the 2020 presidential race.

“We were there as a force of good,” Minuta asserted. “I was with the Oath Keepers, and we’ve always done positive work, disaster relief, protecting businesses aiding people that need help. We have no history of violence and no intention of violence. We are strictly there to protect the First Amendment because we can’t have one side that’s permitted to have free speech and the other that’s not. That’s not America. That’s not what this country was founded on and when that’s gone my children’s future looks grim.”

Minuta family Christmas photo - Gissela, Roberto.
Minuta family Christmas photo. (Courtesy of Roberto Minuta)

Minuta, a 37-year-old who lives in Prosper, Texas, describes himself as a “father, husband and a patriot devoted to using our God-given rights.” He said he has been “very concerned over the past few years” about how the loss of those rights might affect his children’s futures.

“That’s what got me involved in politics and rallies, the First Amendment, and things like that,” Minuta said. “That led me down a path where I was providing security for speakers in Washington D.C. in November, December, and on January 6.” In November 2021, Minuta was in Washington to provide security for Alex Jones and Infowars. In December 2021, he was there to provide security for Gen. Michael Flynn. On Jan. 6, 2021, he was there to protect Roger Stone.

“We were at the Willard Hotel with Roger Stone as a protective detail,” Minuta recalled. “He was supposed to speak at two events, one at the Ellipse and one at the Capitol. We had a permit for the event at the Capitol.”

According to the indictment, Minuta drove to the Capitol in a golf cart with 33-year-old Joshua James of Arab, Alabama, “in response to a call for individuals to head to the Capitol after the building was breached.” The indictment says Minuta was “at times swerving around law enforcement vehicles” saying, “Patriots are storming the Capitol … so we’re en route in a grand theft auto golf cart to the Capitol building right now … it’s going down guys; it’s literally going down right now Patriots storming the Capitol building.”

According to Minuta, he and James simply volunteered to help provide protection to anyone who needed help.

“While waiting there in our golf carts we heard of violence against protesters,” Minuta said, “and we decided it wouldn’t be safe for [Stone] to head over there either because it was already a concerning situation. So, we secured him at the hotel and went to our hotel. Then we took our golf carts over to the Capitol. When we got there we didn’t witness any violence at all. We walked around the building and got to the stairs. That’s where we had a permit to be.”

Minuta said he and James were interacting with law enforcement and some of the people in the crowd. While speaking with someone he believed was a Capitol Police Officer—dressed in plain clothes while standing with another man wearing riot gear—Minuta asked what they were doing and the man said, “We’re trying to get our guys out. You can have this area.”

Repeating what the officer said for clarification, Minuta said, “The officer again said ‘Yes, you can have this area. We are trying to get our guys out.'”

“My response to him was, ‘We’re with you if you’re with us,’ and we proceeded to follow him through the Capitol doors and the doors were held open.”

Minuta said “the building was opened, and people were coming in and out for the better part of an hour like it was a museum.” He said they entered “with the intention of helping get law enforcement out of the building.” He pulled out his phone and started recording for his own safety. “We found the police and a gentleman in front of me said, ‘Do you want to get out, come on, let’s go and we’ll get you out,'” Minuta said, adding, “that interaction went south pretty quickly.”

It was then that Minuta asserts the law enforcement officer shoved the man in front of him and “a little skirmish took place.”

Epoch Times Photo
Screenshot from the Feb. 24, 2021, complaint against Roberto Minuta showing details of what is repeatedly described as the “military attire” he wore to the Capitol Building on Jan. 6, 2021. (United States District Court of the District of Columbia Criminal Complaint 1:2-mj-00260)

“That’s when I realized this was not a good situation,” he said. “We were there to help people. We weren’t there to engage in any form of violence. The shove was uncalled for, inappropriate. We were offering assistance to these people, and I realize it was a tense situation but there was no reason for anyone, law enforcement or civilian, to put their hands on anyone when they’re not doing anything. So, I turned around and exited immediately, and moments later the law enforcement in riot gear came out of the building and were led down the steps to safety by members of the Oath Keepers.”

Minuta said his trial keeps getting pushed back. First it was scheduled for July 2022. “Now it looks like it’s going to go in September, maybe even December.” However, he confessed the delays weren’t frustrating “honestly, because I’m not in jail.”

“I did spend a few nights in solitary confinement when I was arrested,” he confessed, “and I feel horrible for people who have been locked up this whole time.”

Asked what he fears most, Minuta said he “fears for the future of our country.”

Roberto Minuta and his wife, Giselle while speaking to The Epoch Times on March 9, 2022.
Roberto Minuta and his wife, Gissela. (Patricia Tolson/The Epoch Times)

“This is a much greater issue than myself, and the others who are incarcerated and anyone else being prosecuted and persecuted over this,” he explained. However, while he does not condone the violence that happened that day, Minuta warned that allowing the government to shut down freedom of speech and allowing them the power to hunt down, prosecute people, and imprison people with no criminal background simply for exercising their First Amendment rights “does not bode well for the future of America.”

Despite all allegations, no evidence has been presented to prove Minuta was directly involved in any acts of violence.

During the interview, Roberto’s wife Gissela sat quietly at his side.

“I’m trying to support him as much as I can but really, my main focus is our children and keeping life calm for them,” she confessed. She has started a GiveSendGo account to help cover the cost of her husband’s defense.

Gissela said their children, an 8-year-old son and a 6-year-old daughter, “are very aware” of what is going on. For their protection, the Minuta’s did not want to share their names.

Roberto Minuta being a kid with his kids.
Roberto Minuta being a kid with his kids. (Screenshot from the GiveSendGo account, with permission from Gissela Minuta)

“It has probably affected them the most because we had just moved to Texas and the FBI took [Roberto] while he was working in New York,” Gissela explained, saying the FBI raided their house about an hour and a half after arresting him.

It was a Saturday afternoon. It was a sunny day. Her mother was visiting from New Jersey. There was a loud banging on the front door. Terrified, Gissela told her children to “go hide in mommy’s closet.”

When she opened the door, she saw a swarm of FBI agents, dressed in full gear and vests, with guns and a battering ram.

She was instructed to come outside.

“Let me just go get my children,” she said.

They insisted she come outside.

“I said, ‘Please, I beg of you, can I go with you to get my kids?'”

They refused, keeping Gissela separated from her children while they searched the home for what seemed, to her, like hours.

Gissela Minuta speaks with The Epoch Times about the indictment filed against her husband, Roberto Minuta for his alleged conduct on January 6, 2021.
Gissela Minuta speaks with The Epoch Times about the indictments filed against her husband, Roberto Minuta for his alleged conduct on Jan. 6, 2021. (Patricia Tolson/The Epoch Times)

“They wouldn’t let me leave or the children leave,” Gissela recalled. “They wouldn’t let me be alone with my children. They were crying hysterically. They escorted the kids out and had a woman FBI agent sit with my kids, interviewing my kids, looking through their rooms, looking through our closets, their toys. You would have thought we had done this horrific thing when we know all their father did that day was helping law enforcement. He was just trying to help. He didn’t go with the intention of protesting anything that day. He was there trying to help. So that’s very frustrating.”

The worst part for Gissela was the terror the FBI inflicted on her children. “My son can read. They both can read. They can see ‘FBI.’ They know who the FBI is. It was like we’re these big criminals and we don’t even have speeding tickets, and as much as the media tries to portray my husband to look a certain way, our kids don’t see that. We don’t have guns in front of our children. We’re a very patriotic family. We’re very pro-law enforcement. We’re Christians and we teach our children to have loving hearts no matter what skin color or profession you have. Now they look at law enforcement like they’re scary. They’re mean and they hurt our family. That’s hard.”

Screenshot from GiveSendGo account showing Roberto Minuta holding his daughter.
Screenshot from GiveSendGo account showing Roberto Minuta holding his daughter. (With permission from Gissela Minuta.)

Asked what she fears the most, Gissela’s eyes immediately filled with tears.

“Losing my husband over this and having him go to jail,” she said, her voice breaking with emotion. “That, and our children not having their father. It’s not fair. It’s a lie. They’re trying to make an example out of these men and my husband.” She said it’s a “spit in the face” that her own government is persecuting Americans for exercising their constitutional rights. “We’ve always taught our children to be respectful of law enforcement and try to be good people. It’s hurtful I’m not angry. I’m just hurt. As a Christian woman, I forgive them. I know everything happens for a reason. I know that God has this under control.”

The Epoch Times has reached out to the FBI for comment.

Joseph M. Hanneman contributed to this report.

Patricia Tolson
Patricia Tolson, an award-winning national investigative reporter with 20 years of experience, has worked for such news outlets as Yahoo!, U.S. News, and The Tampa Free Press. With The Epoch Times, Patricia’s in-depth investigative coverage of human interest stories, election policies, education, school boards, and parental rights has achieved international exposure. Send her your story ideas: patricia.tolson@epochtimes.us