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Florida men and the Oath Keepers founder are among several charged with seditious conspiracy

Stewart Rhodes
Susan Walsh
/
AP
In this Sunday, June 25, 2017 file photo, Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers, speaks during a rally outside the White House in Washington. Rhodes has been arrested and charged with seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The Justice Department announced the charges against Rhodes on Jan. 13, 2022.

The Justice Department announced the new indictment alleging an effort to "oppose by force the execution of the laws governing the transfer of presidential power."

Four Central Florida men and the founder of the Oath Keepers are among several people charged with seditious conspiracy in the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The new federal indictment was unsealed Thursday.

Oath Keepers Kelly Meggs, 52, of Dunnellon, and Kenneth Harrelson, of Titusville, had already been indicted on conspiracy and other charges.

Joseph Hackett, of Sarasota, also was indicted on Thursday.

Now they’re accused of seditious conspiracy along with founder Elmer Stewart Rhodes III and eight others. Rhodes was arrested Thursday morning in Texas.

Rhodes, of Granbury, Texas, is the highest-ranking member of an extremist group to be arrested in the deadly siege.

The Justice Department announced the new indictment, alleging an effort to “oppose by force the execution of the laws governing the transfer of presidential power.”

It is the first time the Justice Department has brought a seditious conspiracy charge in connection with the attack on the Capitol.

The 48-page indictment details three months of encrypted communication, paramilitary training, and coordination — including armed strike forces on standby. It culminates in the Capitol breach. But prosecutors say the plotting continued even after that.

They say Rhodes led the effort, beginning with a secret message to Meggs and other leaders two days after the election. Rhodes told them quote: “We aren’t getting through this without a civil war.”

Ten other people also were charged with seditious conspiracy in connection with the attack on Jan. 6, 2021, when authorities said members of the extremist group came to Washington intent on stopping the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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Joe Byrnes