An Indiana woman on Wednesday became the first defendant to be sentenced in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and avoided time behind bars, while a member of the Oath Keepers extremist group pleaded guilty in a conspiracy case and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in a major step forward for the massive investigation.
The two developments signal that the cases against those charged in the deadly siege are slowly advancing, even as the U.S. Department of Justice and the courthouse in Washington, D.C., struggle under the weight of roughly 500 federal arrests across the U.S. And it comes as Republicans in Washington attempt to downplay the violence committed by members of the mob supporting former President Donald Trump.
Graydon Young, who was accused alongside 15 other members and associates of the Oath Keepers of conspiring to block the congressional certification of Joe Biden’s presidential victory, pleaded guilty to two counts: conspiracy and obstruction of an official proceeding. It was the first guilty plea in the major conspiracy case brought against members of the group.
The second charge calls for up to 20 years in prison, but U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta said federal sentencing guidelines call for Young to serve between 5 1/4 years and 6 1/2 years behind bars. Prosecutors may seek even less time in exchange for his cooperation against other defendants.
Young, 55, of Englewood, Florida, was arrested in February and charged in the sweeping conspiracy case accusing members of the Oath Keepers of coming to Washington prepared to use violence and intent on stopping the certification of the vote. Authorities said in court documents that Young joined the Florida chapter of the Oath Keepers in December, writing that he was “looking to get involved in helping ...”
Later that month, Young reached out to a company that does firearms and combat training about a rifle class for four people, according to the indictment. Authorities say Young, wearing a helmet and tactical vest, was part of the military-style “stack” seen on camera marching through the crowd before entering the Capitol building.
Young's attorneys didn't immediately respond to emails sent Wednesday seeking comment.
Another Oath Keepers member, Jon Ryan Schaffer, has also pleaded guilty in the riot, but was not charged in the conspiracy case. Schaffer has agreed to cooperate with investigators and potentially testify against other defendants.
Anna Morgan Lloyd, 49, of Indiana, was ordered by a federal judge to serve three years of probation, perform 120 hours of community service and pay $500 in restitution after admitting to unlawfully entering the Capitol. She pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor charge under a deal with prosecutors.
After the riot, Lloyd described Jan. 6 on Facebook as the “best day ever."
On Wednesday, she apologized to the court, her family and “the American people,” saying she went to Washington that day to peacefully show her support for Trump.
“I’m ashamed that it became a savage display of violence that day. And I would have never been there if I had a clue it was going to turn out that way,” Lloyd told the judge. “It was never my intent to be a part of anything that’s so disgraceful to our American people.”
In seeking probation for Lloyd, prosecutors noted that she was not involved in any violence and destruction or preplanning and coordination of the Capitol breach. Lloyd was invited by her hairdresser to drive to Washington to hear Trump speak, her attorney wrote in court documents.
U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth said he was giving her a “break,” but didn’t want others to think that probation — and not a stiffer sentence — would be the norm.
“Legally, I could give you the six months, but is that really what we want our judiciary to do?” the judge asked.
Lamberth said he struggled with what would be an appropriate sentence for Lloyd because he views the riot as a serious crime. “This wasn