Another Alleged Oath Keeper Pleads Guilty To Jan. 6 Conspiracy
An alleged member of the Oath Keepers has pleaded guilty to charges connected to the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol and agreed to cooperate with the government in its conspiracy case against the extremist group.
Mark Grods entered a plea of guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of obstruction of an official proceeding. According to the statement of offense, the conspiracy's aim was to stop Congress' certification of the Electoral College count.
The plea marks another step forward for prosecutors pursuing a broader conspiracy case against 16 alleged members or associates of the Oath Keepers, a far-right, anti-government group. Last week, one of the defendants in that case pleaded guilty to conspiracy and obstruction, and agreed to cooperate with investigators.
Grods, who was charged separately but admitted to having coordinated with members of the Oath Keepers, has also agreed to cooperate with the government, including testifying before a grand jury or at trial.
In a court filing, prosecutors said Grods' case "is part of an ongoing grand jury investigation and plea negotiation related to United States v. Thomas Caldwell, et al.," which is the government's Oath Keepers conspiracy case.
At a court hearing Wednesday in Washington, D.C., just blocks from the Capitol, U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta went over the charges and the terms of Grods' plea deal, and told him his estimated sentencing guidelines range was 51 to 63 months.
"How do you plead on count one, the charge of conspiracy, sir?" Mehta asked.
"Guilty," Grods said.
"Count two, obstruction of an official proceeding, how do you plead, sir?" Mehta asked.
"Guilty," Grods replied again.
In his statement of offense, Grods admits to bringing firearms to Washington, D.C., and then stashing them across the Potomac River at a Virginia hotel — a detail the government says buttresses its argument that the Oath Keepers prepared for violence on Jan. 6.
The government alleges the group planned to store weapons in Virginia and ferry them into Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6 if the situation in the city got messy.
Grods' statement of offense says on Jan. 6, he rode in a golf cart with others through the city before parking a few blocks away from the Capitol and walking the rest of the way. He then linked up with other alleged Oath Keepers, who forged their way through the crowd, up the steps of the Capitol in a military-style "stack" formation and into the building itself.
Other members of the "stack" have been charged in the Oath Keepers conspiracy case.
Four minutes after entering the Capitol, the statement of offense says, Grods left the building as police shot pepper balls at a wall near him.
Two days after the assault on the Capitol, an unnamed individual told Grods to "make sure that all signal comms about the op has been deleted and burned," according to the statement of offense, which Grods confirmed he had done.
It is unclear how much additional information Grods will be able to provide investigators, but his plea agreement — the second in the span of a week — may prompt other defendants in the case to cut deals with prosecutors as well.
Overall, charges have now been brought against more than 500 individuals related to the riot at the Capitol.
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