Prosecutors Ask Court to Order Oath Keepers Leader Detained Pending Trial on Jan. 6 Charges

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Reporter
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.
January 21, 2022 Updated: January 23, 2022

The leader of the Oath Keepers group should remain locked up until trial on charges related to the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol, prosecutors said in a new court filing.

Stewart Rhodes was one of 11 Oath Keepers charged on Jan. 13 with seditious conspiracy.

Because of the “compelling evidence” against Rhodes, “there are no conditions of release that can reasonably assure the safety of the community or the defendant’s appearance in court,” prosecutors wrote in the filing, which attempts to convince a judge to deny bond to Rhodes.

“And based on Rhodes’s evidence destruction aimed at hiding his crimes and the identities of his co-conspirators, he poses a risk of obstructing justice should he be released. Pretrial detention is warranted and necessary,” they added.

A lawyer representing Rhodes, who is currently being held in federal jail in Texas, declined to comment.

Rhodes’s lawyers are expected to file a competing motion calling for the judge to grant some level of bail.

Rhodes, 56, has pleaded not guilty.

A detention hearing is scheduled for Jan. 24 in Plano at 10 a.m. local time.

Edward Vallejo, 63, another accused co-conspirator, appeared in federal court in Arizona on Jan. 20. U.S. Magistrate Judge John Boyle ordered Vallejo detained pending trial, calling him “a serious danger at this time.”

“Vallejo played a central role in the planned use of force in this plot, agreeing and preparing to usher firearms and other related equipment into Washington, D.C., to his co-conspirators,” prosecutors said in a filing last week.

The guns weren’t ultimately transported to the nation’s capital, but if Rhodes had ordered the transport, “you would have complied,” Boyle said during the hearing.

Vallejo’s public defender unsuccessfully sought his release and said he plans to plead not guilty.

Vallejo and Rhodes were the only two freshly charged last week; the other Oath Keepers members already faced charges related to the Jan. 6, 2021, breach.

While hundreds of people have been charged in the riot, nobody previously had been hit with a seditious conspiracy charge.

The U.S. government has alleged that the group forcibly entered the Capitol after months of planning and gathering weapons and supplies in a bid to stop the transfer of presidential power.

Members of Congress were convened in Washington that day to certify electoral votes. After the interruption, President Joe Biden was certified as the winner of the 2020 election over then-President Donald Trump.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.