Tampa Bay area Oath Keepers were allegedly planning Jan. 6 plot only days after election

8 On Your Side

DUNNELLON, Fla. (WFLA) – Kelly Meggs planning sessions with the Oath Keepers’ founder starting before all the votes from the Nov. 3 election were counted, according to the latest Capitol siege indictment.

Meggs, of Dunnellon, and Joseph Hacket, of Sarasota, were charged with seditious conspiracy along with two other Florida residents and Oath Keeper founder Elmer Rhodes, of Texas, who were named in a 17-count indictment involving a total of 11 defendants.

David Moerschel, of Punta Gorda and Kenneth Harrelson of Titusville, were also indicted in the conspiracy case tied to the alleged effort to stop the certification of the presidential election.

Rhodes, who called for a “bloody revolution” according to the federal filing, hosted a Nov. 9 conference call that included Meggs, Hacket, Harrelson and others. President Joe Biden was declared the winner on Nov. 7, but votes were still being tabulated in several areas and recounts would last for several weeks.

“During the meeting, Rhodes outlined a plan to stop the lawful transfer of presidential power,” the document states. “Including preparations for the use of force, and urged those listening to participate.”

They did participate, according to prosecutors. During another exchange, Meggs told Rhodes, “We need to make those senators very uncomfortable with all of us being a few hundred feet away.”

The document references plans to stockpile weapons at a location near the Capitol.

“You guys gonna carry?” Meggs asked, according to the document. “OK. We aren’t either. We have a heavy QRF 10 min. out though.”

QRF is short for Quick Response Force that Rhodes discussed with fellow Oath Keepers, the document states.

“If you want to stow weapons with [operation leader] you can,” Rhodes told Meggs, according to the document. “He’ll have a secure car trunk or his hotel room (or mine).”

The filing alleges Rhodes spent about $5,000 on firearms, ammunition and other weaponry supplies, and Meggs discussed bringing rounds of ammunition.

“I’m gonna have a few thousand just in case,” Meggs said, according to the document. “No one ever said, [expletive deleted] I brought too much.”

Five deaths are said to be connected to the siege and hundreds were injured including 150 Capitol police officers.

Rhodes’ attorney Jon Moseley said he does not believe the government can prove its case.

Former federal prosecutor Barbara McQuade said seditious conspiracy charges are very rare.

“It means someone has been accused of using force to oppose the authority of the United States,” McQuade said. “So, it’s a pretty big crime. It’s punishable by up to 20 years.”

But it is a crime that has been difficult to prove in court. The last time anyone was charged with seditious conspiracy was in 2010 when Hutaree Militia members were arrested in the Midwest.

But the judge in the case ordered acquittals, ruling the government did not prove the defendants made plans for a rebellion.

This case is more severe, according to Southern Poverty Law Center Senior Research Analyst Rachel Carroll Rivas.

“This was extreme,” Carroll Rivas said. “Folks were referencing civil war.”

Carroll Rivas said she believes the government has strong evidence.

“The DOJ brought something that isn’t used all the time,” she said. “And I think that means they were very prepared that this was indeed the charge that was appropriate for this case.”

Seventy-seven Floridians have now been charged in connection with the siege. That is still the highest total for any state and more than 10 percent of the nation’s total of 725.

Carroll Rivas believes groups like the Oath Keepers expanded in the state as part of a strategy.

“I think they understand what’s at stake in Florida when it comes to a place that really is up for grabs when it comes to which direction it heads,” Carroll Rivas said.

Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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