Second Oath Keepers member pleads guilty to seditious conspiracy


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A second member of the extremist group Oath Keepers pleaded guilty Friday to seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol and will cooperate with federal prosecutors to avoid a possible multiyear prison term.

Brian Ulrich, 44, of Guyton, Ga., was arrested in August on charges of joining a group of right-wing Oath Keepers members who planned and organized travel to Washington, stashed firearms in an Arlington hotel, then sent several individuals with tactical gear and radios into the Capitol. The leader of the group, Stewart Rhodes, was arrested in January and charged with seditious conspiracy in a superseding indictment with Ulrich and nine others accused of plotting to impede the inauguration of President Biden by force.

Ulrich pleaded guilty to two of five felony counts, seditious conspiracy and obstructing an official proceeding. The certification of the 2020 election results in Congress was on the day of the attack. Each count is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Prosecutors agreed in a plea deal to drop the three other counts of conspiring to prevent an officer from discharging his or her duties, aiding and abetting, and evidence tampering. Prosecutors could also seek leniency for Ulrich, who otherwise could face up to 78 months in prison under federal guidelines.

Ulrich said in plea papers that he “and others agreed to take part in the plan developed by Rhodes” to “stop the lawful transfer of presidential power,” by force if necessary, and that he acted “to influence or affect the conduct of the United States government and to retaliate” against it. Rhodes has pleaded not guilty.

First defendant pleads guilty to seditious conspiracy in Capitol attack

At a plea hearing held by video conference, Ulrich briefly grew emotional as District Judge Amit Mehta read the penalties aloud but declined when asked if he needed a short break. “No your honor,” Ulrich said. “It’s only going to get harder.”

Ulrich was recorded in Washington providing security to longtime Donald Trump political adviser Roger Stone in January 2021. Ulrich is the third bodyguard who was seen with Stone on Jan. 6 or the day before to plead guilty in the Capitol riot and the second in the seditious conspiracy case to do so.

One of them, Joshua James of Arab, Ala., became the first to plead guilty on March 2 to seditious conspiracy. The Army veteran who was injured in Iraq agreed to cooperate in hopes of reducing a recommended sentence of up to 108 months in prison.

The other, Mark Grods, earlier admitted in a plea deal that he traveled to the Washington area from Alabama with two guns and joined fellow members in the Capitol riot.

Stone has denied involvement in the riot, calling any claim or implication that he knew about or condoned illegal acts at the Capitol as “categorically false.”

Video shows efforts from Roger Stone to overturn the 2020 election

In plea papers, Ulrich acknowledged encouraging users in an encrypted Signal group called “Oath Keepers of Georgia” to join him in Washington, messaging in one chat on Dec. 5, 2020, “I seriously wonder what it would take just to get ever patriot marching around the capital armed? Just to show our government how powerless they are!”

Six days later, Ulrich admitted messaging that “Civil War” may be necessary under a Biden administration, adding, “I made my peace with God before I joined.”

In an encrypted planning chat with other defendants, Ulrich discussed bringing firearms including an AR-15 style rifle and ammunition, he acknowledged in court filings.

“I will be the guy running around with the budget AR,” he wrote, according to a signed statement of offense. “The more patriots the merrier gonna be wild,” Ulrich wrote, referring to the Dec. 19, 2020, tweet by President Donald Trump that events of Jan. 6 “will be wild.”

On Jan. 1, before he lodged in Washington at the Mayflower Hotel, Ulrich messaged James asking, “Hey we told to bring guns and maybe stage them in VA?” He asked if they should bring guns or not and “if so how will that work?” according to plea papers.

In Washington, Ulrich allegedly drove others in a golf cart to the Capitol after it was breached, “at times swerving around law enforcement vehicles,” according to charging papers. He stayed in the building about 15 minutes, the charging papers said.