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Florida member of the Oath Keepers charged with conspiracy in connection to Capitol riot

Federal prosecutors Thursday announced charges against a Florida man linked to the far-right militia group the Oath Keepers, who was seen with the tactical-style "stack" of rioters that marched up the steps of the U.S. Capitol January 6.

Kenneth Harrelson, 41, is charged with crimes that include conspiring with nine other Oath Keepers members, who were indicted separately, after prosecutors say they coordinated before and during the attack. 

Harrelson could face a maximum of 36 years in prison and up to $850,000 in fines if convicted. He will stay in jail until at least Monday, when the court will hold a hearing to decide whether he should be detained before trial. Federal prosecutors said they intend to seek his detention.

Prosecutors said Kenneth Harrelson was photographed in the Capitol Rotunda with members of Oath Keepers behind him, one placing an arm on his shoulder. SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

Federal authorities said Harrelson previously served in the U.S. Army, and that the Oath Keepers — a loose collection of individuals who believe the government is attempting to strip Americans of their rights — are focused on recruiting current and former military members, law enforcement and first-responders. Among the nine Oath Keepers who were previously indicted, at least five had previously served in the military or worked in law enforcement.

Prosecutors also unsealed charges this week against two other Oath Keepers, Roberto Minuta and Joshua James, who were seen providing security for former Trump adviser Roger Stone on the morning of the riots. Later that day, the men were seen together while Minuta "aggressively taunted and berated" law enforcement protecting the Capitol, and both were charged with entering the building unlawfully.

Harrelson is the 13th individual associated with the Oath Keepers alleged to have committed crimes stemming from the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th.

Court documents describe Harrelson's interactions with other members of the Oath Keepers during the attack, and indicate he made payments to the group and communicated with other members over the phone and in web conferences prior to January 6.

According to footage taken at the event, Harrelson can be seen interacting with a group of Oath Keepers as they marched up Capitol steps in a "stack" formation, facing them as they passed through the crowd. Later, he was photographed inside the Capitol Rotunda with members of Oath Keepers behind him, one placing an arm on his shoulder, according to court documents. Another photo shows him outside the Capitol standing in a group with three of the men he's alleged to have conspired with.

Oath Keepers suspects
This photo, included in court documents, shows Kenneth Harrelson, under the green arrow, interacting with three other individuals affiliated with the Oath Keepers, prosecutors say. Department of Justice

According to the charging documents, Harrelson made payments to Oath Keepers, Inc. in July, October, and November of 2020, and prosecutors suggested Harrelson organized or attended approximately 30 meetings affiliated with the Oath Keepers using the web conferencing service Go To Meeting, citing records linked to Harrelson's IP address. One of the meetings, held January 3 and organized through Harrelson's account, was titled "dc planning call."

Prosecutors also say that a phone number registered to Harrelson exchanged multiple calls in December with Kelly Meggs, the self-described leader of the Florida chapter of the Oath Keepers. James, another recently charged Oath Keeper from Alabama, also interacted with Meggs, exchanging a call with him as recently as February.

Prosecutors say this surveillance footage shows Harrelson near other members of the Oath Keepers militia shortly after they breached the door of the U.S. Capitol. Department of Justice

Around the time of the attack, a device associated with Harrelson's phone number, prosecutors said, was also identified as using cell service in an area that includes the inside of the U.S. Capitol.

In addition to the conspiracy charge, Harrelson is also charged with obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting, destruction of government property and aiding and abetting and entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds. 

Harrelson is one of at least 20 Capitol rioters who federal prosecutors have charged with conspiracy so far.

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