A Sarasota man was one of four Oath Keepers found guilty Monday for his actions tied to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack aimed at stopping the peaceful transfer of presidential power to President Joe Biden.
Joseph Hackett, 52, was convicted of seditious conspiracy and four other charges in a trial against members of the right-wing militia group, according to reporting by USA Today.
Hackett was found guilty of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstructing an official proceeding, conspiracy to prevent members of Congress from discharging their official duties and destruction of evidence, according to a U.S. Department of Justice news release.
Seditious conspiracy occurs when a group of people conspire to “overthrow, put down or to destroy by force” the U.S. government or bring war against it, or plot to use force to oppose the authority of the government or to block the execution of a law.
Four of the five charges carry a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, according to the news release. The charges also carry potential financial penalties.
U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta is expected to schedule a sentencing hearing at a later date, the news release stated.
Previous reporting:Sarasota Oath Keeper charged with seditious conspiracy for actions surrounding Jan. 6
“Today’s verdict is an important step in our continued efforts to hold criminally accountable those involved in the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a news release. “We will continue to investigate those who sought to undermine the workings of American democracy and we will work closely with federal prosecutors to ensure justice is served.”
Monday’s verdict follows the November 2022 seditious conspiracy conviction of Oath Keepers leader Elmer Stewart Rhodes III and another member of the group.
According to earlier reporting by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Hackett was among a group of Oath Keepers who was dressed in paramilitary gear and breached the Capitol in a “stack” formation. Hackett, a chiropractor, was believed by federal authorities to have been involved in planning the operation, according to previous reporting.
During the six-week trial, prosecutors argued that the four Oath Keepers, along with others, planned and coordinated to travel to Washington D.C. to storm the Capitol and stop the certification of the 2020 election results, according to the news release.
Defense attorneys for the Oath Keepers argued the government “cherry-picked” evidence to make the defendants look as guilty as possible, according to the USA Today article.
When the indictment for Hackett was released in January 2022, the Herald-Tribune reported Hackett had participated in an online meeting convened by Rhodes on Nov. 9, 2020. Following that meeting, Hackett and other Florida Oath Keepers trained on “unconventional warfare.”
The indictment also stated that Hackett was among a group of members in early January 2021 who transported weapons and other items to Washington D.C., according to previous Herald-Tribune reporting.
Hackett was arrested in June 2021 and charged with conspiracy, obstruction of an official proceeding, aiding and abetting, destruction of government property, and illegally entering a restricted building or grounds.
Gabriela Szymanowska covers the legal system for the Herald-Tribune in partnership with Report for America. You can support her work with a tax-deductible donation to Report for America. Contact Gabriela Szymanowska at [email protected], or on Twitter.