A North Carolina man pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiring with other members of the far-right Oath Keepers militia group to forcibly block the peaceful transfer of power following President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory.
William Todd Wilson, 44, of Newton Grove, North Carolina, is the third Oath-Keeping member to plead guilty to a seditious conspiracy charge stemming from the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol.
Brian Ulrich, 44, of Guyton, Georgia, pleaded guilty to the same charge last Friday. Joshua James, 34, of Arab, Alabama, was the first sworn member to be convicted of seditious conspiracy.
The founder of Oath Keepers, 55-year-old Stewart Rhodes of Granbury, Texas, and eight others associated with the group have pleaded not guilty to seditious conspiracy and other charges. A trial for some of them is scheduled to begin in July.
Read more: Former NYPD officer found guilty of attacking Capitol police during January 6 uprising
Unlike James and Ulrich, Wilson was not charged with conspiracy to commit treason in an early January 2022 indictment.
Charge rarely goes as planned. Before January, the last time US prosecutors brought such a seditious conspiracy case was in 2010, in an alleged Michigan conspiracy by members of the Hutari militia to incite an insurgency against the government.
According to court filings, Wilson had been an Oath Keeper member since 2016 and a Sampson County leader of the group’s North Carolina chapter. The filing describes him as a military and law enforcement veteran but does not include any details of his service.
The filing said, “Some members of oath-taking, such as Wilson, believe the federal government has been coerced by a group of elites actively trying to take away American citizens from their rights.” “
Wilson brought a rifle, pistol, ammunition and other combat gear when he went to the Washington area on January 5. He left weapons in a hotel room in Virginia, but was armed with a pocketknife and wearing a neck gaiter and beanie hat to cover his face. Prosecutors said an appearance was recorded when he and other sworn guards entered the Capitol on January 6.
Swearing-in members dressed in paramilitary clothing blew up the Capitol in “stack” formations. According to prosecutors, others stored firearms on the outskirts of Washington, D.C. and were ready to bring weapons to the city on January 6. In the end, the group’s “Quick Reaction Force” teams did not bring guns into Washington.
According to prosecutors, before leaving the Capitol, Wilson joined a crowd of people trying to open the rotunda doors from inside the building.
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Later that afternoon, according to a court filing, Wilson joined Rhodes and others in a hotel private suite, where Rhodes called someone on speaker phone and repeatedly asked that person to tell Trump. Said that ”ask the oath-taking groups to forcibly protest. transfer of power. The unidentified person on the phone declined to let Rhodes speak directly to Trump.
“After the call ended, Rhodes told the group, ‘I just want to fight,'” the filing says.
Prosecutors said that several days after returning home, Wilson threw his cellphone into the Atlantic Ocean to keep its contents out of the hands of law enforcement.
Wilson also pleaded guilty to the charge of obstructing an official proceeding, a joint session of Congress to testify Biden’s victory over former President Donald Trump.
Four others linked to the oath-taking have pleaded guilty to charges of obstructing Congress and of lesser conspiracy, with a maximum sentence of 20 years compared to five years for a lesser conspiracy charge for a conviction under the charge of sedition.
More than 780 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the January 6 riots. More than 270 of them have confessed to their crime, most of them in rape cases. More than 160 of them have been sentenced.