Five Defendants Found Guilty of Conspiracy to Obstruct of the Certification of the 2020 Presidential Election
WASHINGTON – Six members and affiliates of the Oath Keepers were found guilty in the District of Columbia today for their actions during the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol breach. Their actions and the actions of others disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress convened to ascertain and count the electoral votes related to the presidential election.
In verdicts returned today and yesterday, Sandra Parker, 63, of Morrow, Ohio; Bennie Parker, 72, of Morrow, Ohio, Connie Meggs, 60, of Dunnellon, Florida; Laura Steele, 53, of Thomasville, North Carolina, and William Isaacs, 23, of Kissimmee, Florida were found guilty of conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding, a felony. Sandra Parker, Connie Meggs, Steele, and Isaacs were also convicted of obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiring to prevent an officer of the United States from discharging a duty and destruction of government property, all felonies. All five defendants, along with co-defendant Michael Greene, 39, of Indianapolis, Indiana, were found guilty of entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, a misdemeanor.
Parker, Steele, and Isaacs were, additionally, found guilty of obstructing officers during a civil disorder, a felony, for joining the mob that tried to push against officers down the hallway from the Rotunda to the Senate Chamber; Isaacs was found guilty of one additional count of obstructing officers during a civil disorder for his conduct in entering the building; and Steele was found guilty of tampering with evidence.
“With this verdict, the Justice Department has now secured convictions of 14 Oath Keepers members and affiliates for felonies surrounding the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol,” said U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “I am grateful to the prosecutors, agents, and staff for their tireless work on these cases. The Justice Department is committed to holding accountable those criminally responsible for the January 6th assault on our democracy.”
“This trial was the third trial involving individuals associated with the Oath Keepers for their role in delaying the certification of results of the 2020 Presidential election. Juries have now convicted all defendants tried to date, including convicting 14 of the defendants charged with of serious felonies,” said US Attorney Matthew Graves. “The verdicts returned reflect that these juries have carefully reviewed the evidence; considered each defendant’s individual conduct; and reached the outcomes they concluded were required by law. We are incredibly appreciative of all of their hard work.”
“This is another important step in holding accountable those who broke laws and tried to interfere with our democratic process during the January 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “While the FBI will always protect the rights of all citizens to peacefully protest, we will continue to work with our partners to make sure those who violate our laws face justice.”
“This week, a third jury found members of the Oath Keepers guilty of conspiracy for their actions to block the peaceful transfer of power on Jan. 6,” said David Sundberg, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office. “These consistent verdicts show that the criminal actions of this group were intentional and bolster the FBI’s determination to hold accountable those who used violence in an attempt to substitute their will for the will of the people.”
The jury could not reach a verdict with respect to the charge of obstruction of an official proceeding against defendant Greene. Greene was found not guilty of the first and third counts of the indictment, and Bennie Parker was found not guilty of the second and third counts.
According to evidence presented at trial, the defendants and their alleged co-conspirators coordinated in advance of January 6 and traveled across the country to the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area in early January 2021. On the afternoon of January 6, around 1:30 p.m., Oath Keepers leader Elmer Stewart Rhodes III, who was convicted in an earlier trial of seditious conspiracy and related charges, sent a message on an encrypted group chat announcing that Vice President Michael R. Pence would not intercede to stop Congress’ certification of the electoral college vote, and so “patriots” were taking matters into their own hands. Moments later, Defendants Sandra Parker, Bennie Parker, Laura Steele, Connie Meggs, and William Isaacs joined with other Oath Keepers members and affiliates in marching towards the Capitol. They donned paramilitary gear such as helmets and vests. They passed barricades and Capitol Police officers and entered the restricted area of the Capitol grounds. Then Sandra Parker, Steele, Connie Meggs, and Isaacs joined with ten co-conspirators in placing hands on shoulders and marching up the steps and into the Capitol in a military “stack” formation.
Once inside, half of the group—including Sandra Parker, Steele, and Isaacs—tried to force their way past riot police officers towards the Senate Chamber. The other half of the group—including Connie Meggs—moved towards the House Chamber, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s office. In the words of Kelly Meggs, a co-conspirator who was convicted in an earlier trial of seditious conspiracy and related charges, the group was looking for Speaker Pelosi.
In total, 29 Oath Keepers members and affiliates were charged as part of the Capitol Breach investigation. To date, 8 have pleaded guilty, and all 15 who have proceeded to trial have been found guilty. Six are awaiting trial.
The charges of conspiracy to obstruct Congress, obstruction of Congress, and tampering with evidence carry a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison; the charge of destruction of government property carries a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in prison; the charge of conspiracy to prevent members of Congress from discharging their duties carries a maximum penalty of six years in prison; and the charge of interfering with law enforcement officers during a civil disorder carries a statutory maximum of five years in prison; the charge of entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds carries a statutory maximum of one year in prison. All charges carry potential financial penalties. The Court will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia with assistance provided by the Justice Department’s National Security Division. Valuable assistance was provided by U.S. Attorney’s Offices throughout the country.
The case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, Cincinnati Field Office, Charlotte Field Office, Jacksonville Field Office, and Tampa Field. Valuable assistance was provided by the U.S. Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department.
In the 26 months since Jan. 6, 2021, more than 1,000 individuals have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol, including more than 320 individuals charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement. The investigation remains ongoing.
Anyone with tips can call 1-800-CALL-FBI (800-225-5324) or visit tips.fbi.gov.
originally published at HUMAN RIGHTS - USA DAILY NEWS 24