The Justice Department is arguing that Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes should remain in jail as he awaits trial for seditious conspiracy related to the attack on the US Capitol.
“There are no conditions of release that can reasonably assure the safety of the community or the defendant’s appearance in court,” prosecutors wrote in a court filing on Thursday. “And based on Rhodes’s evidence destruction aimed at hiding his crimes and the identities of his co-conspirators, he poses a risk of obstructing justice should he be released.”
The Justice Department last Thursday charged Rhodes and 10 other defendants with seditious conspiracy related to the attack on January 6, 2021. The filing comes as Rhodes and another new arrestee have early hearings in their case on whether they should stay in jail and would be dangerous to the community if released, before their cases move to DC District Court. Neither has formally had the opportunity to enter a plea yet before a judge in DC, but both are expected to fight their charges.
When unsealed last week, the seditious conspiracy case immediately became the boldest attempt by the DOJ to hold accountable participants in the Capitol riot, and potentially one of the toughest among more than 700 federal criminal cases to try.
“Rhodes stood at the center of the seditious conspiracy — orchestrating plans to use force, recruiting and financing co-conspirators, purchasing weaponry and tactical gear, inciting support and action, and endeavoring to conceal his and other co-conspirators’ crimes,” prosecutors wrote.
Rhodes is set to go before a judge in Texas for a detention hearing on Monday.
Also on Thursday, Edward Vallejo – another member of the Oath Keepers group charged with seditious conspiracy – was ordered to remain behind bars without bail.
“There is compelling evidence regarding your potential for danger,” federal Magistrate Judge John Z. Boyle said during a detention hearing in Phoenix.
Prosecutors allege that Vallejo volunteered to maintain a cache of weapons for a “Quick Reaction Force” of Oath Keepers in the nation’s capital, awaiting further instructions from Rhodes.
“It is clear to this court … that if Mr. Rhodes had given the order, you would have complied,” Boyle said.
Vallejo’s attorney, public defender Debbie Jang, argued that there was no evidence that his release would pose a danger to the community. “Mr. Vallejo played a minor role, if at all,” Jang said.
Prosecutors insisted that Vallejo’s comments about responding to the 2020 presidential election showed he was prepared to resort to violence. “We urge the court to recognize the danger Mr. Vallejo poses to the United States and take his words at face value,” they said.
Vallejo, attending Thursday’s hearing via telephone, did not speak in his own defense, only responding to the judge that he understood what was happening.
Vallejo, the judge said, will be transferred to the District of Columbia – where he was indicted – as soon as the US Marshals Service can arrange for transportation.