In a series of documents, prosecutors also said they were appealing the sentences — all handed down by Mehta, a President Barack Obama appointee — of several other defendants convicted of their roles in the alleged Rhodes conspiracy.
Many of Rhodes’ conspirators suffered sentences that likewise fell short of guidelines for their conduct, in some cases by several orders of magnitude. Among those who, like Rhodes, were convicted of seditious conspiracy:
- Leading Florida Oath Keeper Kelly Meggs received a 12-year term; DOJ asked for 21 years.
- Roberto Minuta of New York was sentenced to 4.5 years; DOJ asked for 17 years.
- Florida’s Joseph Hackett received a 3.5-year sentence; DOJ asked for 12 years.
- Ed Vallejo of Arizona received a 3-year sentence; DOJ asked for 17 years.
- Florida’s David Moerschel was sentenced to three years: the DOJ asked for 10 years.
The Justice Department also appealed the convictions of two oath keepers acquitted of seditious conspiracy charges but convicted of conspiring to obstruct Congress:
- Jessica Watkins of Ohio, who was sentenced to 8.5 years in prison; DOJ asked for 18 years.
- Kenneth Harrelson of Florida, sentenced to 4 years; DOJ asked for 15.
The sentences reflected the fact that Mehta saw Rhodes as the main driver of the conspiracies. During sentencing hearings, several of the defendants similarly pointed to Rhodes, claiming they were manipulated and gimmicked by him to participate in the attack on the Capitol.
Dozens of Oath Keepers, many of whom were performing safety details for speakers at Trump’s Jan. 6 rally, would later join the crowd and lead one of the first waves into the building. Once inside, the group split up, with half heading towards the Senate and the other half towards the House. Three oath keepers who joined them pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy and cooperated with prosecutors.
A DOJ spokesman declined to comment. The court records are essential, noting the government’s objection to the rulings but failing to provide a reason, which will likely come in formal briefs filed in the coming months.
The government’s appeals will go to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, located a few blocks from the Capitol and in the same federal courthouse where the trials took place. They are likely to be considered in tandem with appeals filed by the defendants themselves challenging both their convictions and their sentences.