The Justice Department appealed what it considers insufficient sentences for members of the Oath Keepers Wednesday for their involvement in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, Politico reports. The appeal involved seven members of the organization, including its founder, Stewart Rhodes. U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta sentenced Rhodes to 18 years in prison, the harshest sentence for any Jan. 6 defendant. Mehta characterized Rhodes’ leadership as a dangerous criminal conspiracy aimed at violently derailing the transfer of presidential power. The sentence was seven years shorter than the 25-year prison term prosecutors recommended and four years below an agreed-upon “guidelines range” based upon Rhodes’ conduct.
Prosecutors also signaled they were appealing the sentences of several other defendants convicted for their role in Rhodes’ alleged conspiracy. Many of Rhodes’ co-conspirators faced sentences that similarly fell below the guidelines ranges for their conduct. The sentences reflected the fact that Mehta viewed Rhodes as the key driver of the conspiracies. During sentencing hearings, several of the defendants similarly pointed to Rhodes, claiming they were manipulated by him to participate in the attack on the Capitol.