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Oath Keeper agrees to cooperate, testify against others in 16-person conspiracy case

Graydon Young pleaded guilty to conspiracy and obstruction of an official proceeding in connection with the Capitol riot. He faces up to 20 years in prison.

WASHINGTON — A Florida Oath Keeper agreed Wednesday to cooperate with an ongoing federal investigation into the militia’s involvement in the January 6 Capitol breach – becoming the second member of the group to agree to testify against his associates.

Graydon Young, 54, of Englewood, Florida, appeared in person before U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta to plead guilty to two felony counts of conspiracy and obstruction of an official proceeding. Young faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, although Mehta said estimated sentencing guidelines in Young’s case call for between 63-78 months.

Young is one of 16 Oath Keepers charged in an indictment alleging militia members planned an organized attack on the U.S. Capitol building on January 6 – including establishing encrypted communications channels and readying an armed “quick reaction force” to be stationed outside of Washington, D.C.

RELATED | Oath Keepers planned backup staged with weapons outside D.C. during Capitol riot, DOJ says

Young applied to join the Oath Keepers on December 3, according to court documents, and helped his sister, Laura Steele – also charged in the indictment – join later that month. Young is charged with 6 counts:

  • Conspiracy
  • Obstruction of an official proceeding
  • Destruction of government property
  • Entering a restricted building or grounds
  • Civil disorder
  • Tampering with documents or proceedings

In a superseding indictment filed in May, the Justice Department said Young, despite only being a member of the Oath Keepers for a short time, took an active role in planning and participating in the January 6 riot. Those actions include reaching out to a Florida company to organize rifle training for four Oath Keepers in late December, joining the Oath Keepers’ encrypted chat and military “stack” formation during January 6, and trying, with other members of the mob, to push through a line of riot police guarding the hallway to the Senate wing of the U.S. Capitol building once inside.

Investigators also say they found footage of Young and other Oath Keepers regrouping less than 100 feet from the Capitol building with “Person One” – who has been identified in previous filings as national Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes. Rhodes has not been charged in the case.

Young’s plea deal could potentially save him as much as 15 years in federal prison. It also provides the Justice Department with a valuable witness in its prosecutions against Young’s co-defendants like Ohio Oath Keeper Jessica Watkins – accused of helping to organize an armed quick reaction force of “law enforcement members” of the militia – and Florida Oath Keeper Kelly Meggs – who allegedly bragged about forming an “alliance” between Oath Keepers, Florida Three Percenters and the Proud Boys. As part of his plea, Young agreed to cooperate with the investigation, including testifying before a grand jury or at trial, if necessary.

Young is the first member of the 16-count conspiracy indictment to plead guilty. Jon Schaffer, the heavy metal guitarist and Oath Keepers founding member who pleaded guilty earlier this year, is not charged in that case.

While awaiting sentencing, Young remains on GPS detention and home incarceration in Florida.

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