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New defendants charged in Oath Keepers conspiracy case

The Justice Department has added four new defendants to the federal criminal conspiracy case against Oath Keepers who allegedly prepared for and took part in the US Capitol riot, according to a new indictment made public in DC District Court on Sunday.

The newly named Oath Keeper defendants are Joseph Hackett, who went by “Ahab,” Jason Dolan, who went by “Turmoil,” and William Isaacs, all from Florida. A fourth new defendant’s name and alleged actions are still redacted.

The case is the largest against any of the far-right extremist groups that participated in the pro-Trump siege on January 6. Prosecutors have gradually built out the case almost weekly, dropping additional details of how the group allegedly brought guns to a hotel in Virginia to back them up on January 6, and communicated during the insurrection.

The Oath Keeper defendants are all accused of taking part in the conspiracy as well as entering the restricted grounds of the Capitol. Isaacs, for instance, allegedly yelled, “The fight’s not over” once the Oath Keepers group had gotten inside the building, and he waved rioters down the hallway toward the Senate, according to the indictment.

In the new charging document, five of the previously named defendants now face additional charges for allegedly deleting their social media or cell phone activity.

It’s not unusual for prosecutors to rewrite and gradually expand charges in such a sizable case — especially as an investigation continues, as it clearly does regarding January 6, and they identify new contacts and seek to put pressure on existing defendants.

All Oath Keepers that have gone before a district judge in Washington, DC, so far in this case have pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors more than a month ago flipped a cooperator who was charged in a separate Capitol riot case and had deep ties to the group.

Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes continues to be called “Person One” in the court records, indicating he has not been charged, and a few other unindicted co-conspirators also still exist in the case.

Several of the Oath Keeper defendants are set to have a check-in hearing in court in DC on Tuesday.

Isaacs, Hackett and Dolan each were arrested in Florida last week.

Attorneys for Isaacs and Dolan didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment, and attorney information for Hackett wasn’t available Sunday.

Quick reaction force

On Friday, the same day a grand jury approved the new indictment, Department of Justice prosecutors were describing in court filings what else they’ve learned about the group’s so-called Quick Reaction Force, an effort to allegedly bring guns to a Northern Virginia Comfort Inn as backup for the siege.

The Friday filing described whom prosecutors believe to be the organizer of the QRF, a person from North Carolina identified as “Person Three.” The anonymized name means the person may not be arrested and charged at this time — and Person Three is not among the four new charged defendants.

The person had come to the Capitol area, walked a long object covered by a sheet that may have been a gun into a Ballston Comfort Inn hotel room where Oath Keepers were gathering, and wrote on the messaging app Signal that he was looking into boat transportation, according to prosecutors.

Previously, prosecutors had described how the Oath Keepers gathered and stashed weapons at the Comfort Inn, and how defendant Thomas Caldwell of Virginia allegedly had floated an idea of ferrying weapons across the Potomac River to assist with the Capitol siege.

The discussion about assembling weapons for backup also came up among Floridians tied to the group. In a Florida Signal chat, another Oath Keeper defendant, Jessica Watkins, allegedly wrote on January 4, “Where can we drop off weapons to the QFR team? I’d like to have the weapons secured prior to the Op tomorrow,” according to the indictment.

The indictment also describes how most of the Oath Keeper defendants are accused of taking part in a military-like formation called a stack to cut through the crowd to enter the Capitol.

This story has been updated with additional information.

Article Topic Follows: National Politics

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