Update—July 20 at 5:36 p.m. Eastern Time: This story has been updated to reflect that a federal judge accepted the guilty pleas.
An Oath Keepers member who knows about the stash of firearms the extremist group stored inside a hotel just outside of Washington, D.C. plans to plead guilty to two charges related to the Jan. 6th siege of the Capitol on Tuesday, according to recently unsealed documents.
A federal judge accepted his plea hours after the documents were made public.
Caleb Berry joins at least three other members of the militia organization who have agreed to assist prosecutors, following the guilty plea and cooperation deal of 54-year-old Mark Grods in late June. Two other notable defections from the group, heavy metal guitarist Jon Schaffer and Florida man Graydon Young, are said to have left the Oath Keepers fractured.
The unsealing of Berry’s case on Tuesday delivers another blow to the Oath Keepers, with an alleged member whom court papers place at the center of the group’s antics on Jan. 6th.
According to unsealed documents, Berry intends to plead guilty to two counts of conspiracy and obstructing an official proceeding. Berry took part in the group’s military “stack” formation at the Capitol, joining a violent mob that assaulted law enforcement, prosecutors say.
“At the top of the steps, Berry and others known and unknown joined and then pushed forward as part of a mob that aggressively advanced towards the Rotunda Doors at the central east entrance to the Capitol, assaulted the officers guarding the doors, threw objects and sprayed chemicals towards the officers and the doors, and pulled violently on the doors,” Berry’s criminal information states.
Prosecutors say that Berry and others forced their way into the doors of the Capitol at 2:40 p.m.
They are said to have left the building some 14 minutes later.
On Jan. 7, Berry “and others known and unknown retrieved firearms from the Comfort Inn Ballston hotel in Arlington, Virginia,” according to the criminal information.
That Comfort Inn looms large in other court documents involving the Oath Keepers.
Members of the so-called “quick reaction force,” or QRF, allegedly stayed at that hotel and allegedly plotted to storm Washington, D.C. with guns by boat by way of the Potomac River. Surveillance footage from the hotel shows multiple Oath Keepers toting objects shaped like rifles, prosecutors say.
The government filed the criminal information against Berry on July 9, along with a motion to seal information about the cooperation agreement.
“Disclosure of these documents and this docket would endanger other aspects of the government’s ongoing investigation, including the destruction of evidence and the safety of potential witnesses, to include the defendant,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexandra Hughes wrote in a motion to seal. “Making the criminal Information public may reveal the existence of the defendant’s cooperation and potential plea, given that the filing of an information by the government typically precedes a guilty plea.”
The prosecutor noted that premature disclosure could compromise the investigation in other alarming ways.
“If alerted to this information, investigation targets against whom the defendant may be providing information about could be immediately prompted to flee from prosecution, destroy or conceal incriminating evidence, alter their operational tactics to avoid future detection, attempt to influence or intimidate potential witnesses, and otherwise take steps to undermine the investigation and avoid future prosecution,” the motion states.
U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta accepted Berry’s guilty pleas following a hearing that began at 3 p.m. Eastern Time.
Read the criminal information below:
(Image via DOJ)
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