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Prosecutors Get Their 1st Guilty Plea In The Jan. 6 Oath Keepers Conspiracy Case

Updated June 23, 2021 at 6:56 PM ET

Federal prosecutors secured their first guilty plea Wednesday in the Justice Department's sprawling conspiracy case involving the Oath Keepers extremist group in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

At a hearing in federal court in Washington, D.C., Graydon Young pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of obstruction of an official proceeding. The 55-year-old Florida resident agreed to cooperate with investigators, which could prove critical as the government pursues the remaining defendants in the high-profile case.

Young is one of 16 people associated with the Oath Keepers to be charged with conspiracy, obstruction and other offenses over the Capitol riot. Prosecutors say the defendants coordinated their efforts and actions to try to disrupt Congress' certification of the Electoral College count on Jan. 6.

More than 500 people have been charged so far in connection with the Capitol breach, but the Oath Keepers conspiracy case is one of the most closely watched because of the allegations and the link to an extremist organization.

Young is the second defendant linked to the Oath Keepers to plead guilty.Jon Schaffer pleaded guilty to obstructing an official proceeding and entering restricted grounds with a dangerous weapon in April.

According to Young's statement of offense, he coordinated with his co-conspirators ahead of Jan. 6 and used encrypted messaging apps to maintain "operational security."

On the day itself, the document says, Young and some of his co-conspirators pushed through U.S. Capitol Police lines guarding the Capitol and into the building.

"Mr. Young believed that he and the co-conspirators were trying to obstruct, influence, and impede an official proceeding, that is, a proceeding before Congress, specifically, Congress's certification of the Electoral College vote," the document says.

At Wednesday's hearing, Judge Amit Mehta read that passage to Young to ensure that it was accurate.

"Yes, sir," Young replied, "that is correct."

According to the plea deal, Young has agreed to cooperate fully with prosecutors, including sitting for interviews with investigators and testifying before the grand jury and at trial.

The government, meanwhile, has agreed to dismiss the remaining charges against him. Even so, Mehta said Young is facing a possible prison sentence of 5 to 6 1/2 years under the sentencing guidelines.

Wednesday brought another significant development in the Capitol investigation.

Anna Morgan-Lloyd, a 49-year-old from Indiana who described Jan. 6 as the "best day ever," became the first Capitol riot defendant to be sentenced.

Morgan-Lloyd was not accused of taking part in any of the violence at the Capitol. She pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor count of "parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building."

Judge Royce Lamberth sentenced her to three years of probation and no jail time.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ryan Lucas covers the Justice Department for NPR.