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U.S. prosecutors in plea discussions with Capitol rioters linked to Oath Keepers

imageWorld15 minutes ago (Jul 02, 2021 02:35PM ET)

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(C) Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A mob of supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump fight with members of law enforcement at a door they broke open as they storm the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, U.S., January 6, 2021. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo

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By Mark Hosenball and Jan Wolfe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Federal prosecutors are discussing possible plea bargains with members of a group of defendants in the U.S. Capitol storming accused of links with the far-right Oath Keepers movement, a government lawyer told a federal court on Friday.

During a hearing on the status of prosecutions stemming from the Jan. 6 attack, federal prosecutor Kathryn Rakoczy said the government had initiated discussions about possible plea deals with at least 12 of 16 defendants connected to the Oath Keepers. The movement is focused on recruiting current and former military, law enforcement and emergency services personnel.

Five people died, including a U.S. Capitol Police officer, when supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol to try to stop the formal certification of Joe Biden as the winner in November’s presidential election.

The Southern Poverty Law Center identifies the Oath Keepers as “one of the largest radical anti-government groups” in the United States.

Three people described as Oath Keeper defendants have already entered guilty pleas to charges related to the Jan. 6 riot and agreed to cooperate with investigators. Rakoczy told Judge Amit Mehta at Friday’s hearing that it is likely that additional guilty pleas will be entered in Oath Keeper cases.

While most riot defendants accused of Oath Keeper links have been released on bail, at least three remain in pre-trial custody. Lawyers and Judge Mehta indicated that at least some of the pending Oath Keeper cases could ultimately proceed to trial.

In a separate federal court hearing in Washington on Friday, a San Antonio man pleaded guilty to a single riot-related misdemeanor charge.

Matthew Carl Mazzocco, 37, of San Antonio, Texas, pleaded guilty to a charge of violent conduct on U.S. Capitol grounds. A federal court document describes Mazzocco as a mortgage loan officer for CMG Financial and says he posted pictures of himself on Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) at the U.S. Capitol with the caption, “The capital (sic) is ours!”

A sentencing hearing for Mazzocco was set for October 4.

U.S. prosecutors in plea discussions with Capitol rioters linked to Oath Keepers

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