A member of the far-right Oath Keepers militia on Friday became the second participant in the 6 January 2021 Capitol insurrection to plead guilty to seditious conspiracy for his actions in advance of that day.
Brian Ulrich, 44, of Guyton, Georgia, faces five to six years in prison after pleading guilty in federal district court in Washington DC, according to sentencing guidelines. He also pleaded guilty to obstructing an official proceeding, which in this case was the hours-long delay in the certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election over Donald Trump.
Prosecutors charged Ulrich with participating in encrypted chats with other people affiliated with the Oath Keepers in the days before the riot, riding toward the Capitol with others in golf carts on that day, marching on the grounds in a military formation, taunting police officers who were guarding the building and also entering the Capitol as hundreds of Trump supporters sought to block members of congress from voting to certify Biden’s win.
Less than a month before the uprising at the Capitol, Ulrich sent a message to a chat group explaining how “civil war” may be necessary if Biden became president, according to a summary of the case that the defendant endorsed.
“I made my peace with God before I joined,” Ulrich added. “And if there’s a civil war then there’s a civil war.”
Ulrich also bought tactical gear, two-way radios, a medical tourniquet and a half-skull motorcycle helmet in preparation for the attack on the Capitol.
Ulrich said little while entering his guilty plea Friday, other than to answer, “Yes, your honor,” when the judge asked him if he was in fact guilty of the charges against him.
In an attempt to secure the lightest sentence possible, Ulrich agreed to cooperate with authorities investigating the insurrection, including testifying before a grand jury. No sentencing date was immediately set for him.
The seditious conspiracy prosecution is the boldest publicly known attempt so far by the government to prosecute those who attacked the US Capitol. The group’s founder, Stewart Rhodes, and eight others have pleaded not guilty to seditious conspiracy and other charges.
A conviction under the seditious conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years, compared with five years on the lesser conspiracy charge that others associated with the militia group are facing. Defendants who plead guilty rather than stand trial typically do not face the maximum punishments available.
Those charged with seditious conspiracy are accused of plotting to use violence to stop the peaceful transfer of presidential power. Authorities say many participants did exactly what Ulrich did: discussed their plans in encrypted chats, traveled to the nation’s capital from across the country, organized into teams, used military tactics, stashed weapons in case they felt they were needed and communicated with each other during the January 6 riot.
While four other people connected with the Oath Keepers have pleaded guilty to obstruction of Congress and the lesser conspiracy charge, Ulrich is the second person to plead guilty to seditious conspiracy. Joshua A James of Arab, Alabama, pleaded guilty to the charge last month.
Prosecutors say the group created a so-called quick reaction force, or QRF, that stashed away guns at a hotel in nearby Arlington, Virginia. The group was ready to bring the weapons into Washington if Rhodes or associates believed it was needed. Days before the attack, one defendant suggested getting a boat to ferry weapons across the Potomac River. But ultimately, the QRF teams did not bring guns into Washington.
More than 780 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the January 6 riot. More than 250 of them have pleaded guilty, mostly to misdemeanors. About 160 of them have been sentenced.
Among those who have pleaded guilty are a handful of members of various ranks of another far-right group, the Proud Boys, which is often compared to the Oath Keepers.
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( Information from theguardian.com was used in this report. To Read More, click here )