Founder of Anti-Government Militia Is Charged with Seditious Conspiracy in Jan. 6 Plot to Storm the Capitol

Elmer Stewart Rhodes III has previously denied any wrongdoing

Stewart Rhodes
Stewart Rhodes. Photo: Aaron C. Davis/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A federal grand jury has indicted 11 individuals — including the founder and leader of far-right militia group Oath Keepers — on seditious conspiracy and other charges for their alleged involvement in the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

A statement from the Department of Justice confirms Elmer Stewart Rhodes III, a 56-year-old Texas man, has been charged for the first time in connection with events leading up to and including the Jan. 6 attack.

Rhodes was arrested Thursday, as was Edward Vallejo, 63.

Rhodes, who was set to be arraigned this afternoon, has previously denied any wrongdoing.

"As alleged in the indictments, the Oath Keepers are a large but loosely organized collection of individuals, some of whom are associated with militias," the statement reads. "Though the Oath Keepers will accept anyone as members, they explicitly focus on recruiting current and former military, law enforcement and first-responder personnel."

The statement further notes that "members and affiliates of the Oath Keepers were among the individuals and groups who forcibly entered the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021."

The indictment further names nine other individuals who'd already been facing criminal charges for their alleged roles in the riots that disrupted Congress' certification of President Joe Biden's election win.

capitol coup
Rioters at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Samuel Corum/Getty

The Jan. 6 attack was perpetrated by supporters of former President Donald Trump.

"The seditious conspiracy indictment alleges that, following the Nov. 3, 2020, presidential election, Rhodes conspired with his co-defendants and others to oppose by force the execution of the laws governing the transfer of presidential power by Jan. 20, 2021," the statement explains.

"Beginning in late December 2020, via encrypted and private communications applications, Rhodes and various co-conspirators coordinated and planned to travel to Washington, D.C., on or around Jan. 6, 2021, the date of the certification of the electoral college vote, the indictment alleges. Rhodes and several co-conspirators made plans to bring weapons to the area to support the operation. The co-conspirators then traveled across the country to the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area in early January 2021."

The statement claims the other defendants facing seditious conspiracy charges are: Thomas Caldwell, 67, of Berryville, Va.; Joseph Hackett, 51, of Sarasota, Fla.; Kenneth Harrelson, 41, of Titusville, Fla.; Joshua James, 34, of Arab, Ala.; Kelly Meggs, 52, of Dunnellon, Fla.; Roberto Minuta, 37, of Prosper, Texas; David Moerschel, 44, of Punta Gorda, Fla.; Brian Ulrich, 44, of Guyton, Ga.; and Jessica Watkins, 39, of Woodstock, Ohio.

Eight other individuals affiliated with the Oath Keepers, all previously charged in the investigation, remain defendants in two related cases.

All defendants — except Rhodes and Vallejo — were previously charged in a superseding indictment that has now effectively been split into three parts: the 11-defendant seditious conspiracy case, a seven-defendant original case, and a third case against one of the previously charged defendants.

"In one of the related cases, the original superseding indictment, charges remain pending against James Beeks, 49, of Orlando, Florida; Donovan Crowl, 51, of Cable, Ohio; William Isaacs, 22, of Kissimmee, Florida; Connie Meggs, 60, of Dunnellon, Florida; Sandra Parker, 63, of Morrow, Ohio; Bernie Parker, 71, of Morrow, Ohio, and Laura Steele, 53, of Thomasville, North Carolina," the statement reads. "The other case charges Jonathan Walden, 57, of Birmingham, Alabama."

Plea information was not provided in the DOJ statement.

The three indictments collectively charge all 19 defendants with corruptly obstructing an official proceeding, the statement explains.

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Eighteen of the 19 defendants are charged with conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding and conspiring to prevent an officer of the United States from discharging a duty.

Eleven of the 19 defendants are charged with seditious conspiracy.

Some of the defendants are also facing other related charges.

Within the last year, more than 725 individuals have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol, including over 225 individuals charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement.

The investigation remains ongoing, and anyone with tips can call 1-800-CALL-FBI (800-225-5324) or visit

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