Federal prosecutors filed a wide-ranging conspiracy indictment on Thursday accusing six California males mentioned to be linked to a radical gun rights motion referred to as the Three Percenters with plotting to assault the Capitol on Jan. 6, within the first costs lodged in opposition to anybody concerned with planning any of the political occasions held the week of the assault.
The 20-page indictment was additionally the primary to be introduced in opposition to a gaggle of alleged Three Percenters, a loosely organized motion that takes its identify from the supposed 3 % of the U.S. colonial inhabitants that fought in opposition to the British. The brand new costs, filed in Federal District Court docket in Washington, got here on the identical day that Christopher A. Wray, the F.B.I. director, testified in entrance of a Home committee that prosecutors have been pursuing extra conspiracy costs in opposition to a number of the rioters who stormed the Capitol.
Investigators have mentioned for months that a number of extremist teams have been concerned within the assault, however whereas the Three Percenters have been often talked about in court docket filings, most accused extremists have come from two different teams: the Oath Keepers militia and the far-right nationalist group the Proud Boys. The brand new costs may counsel that prosecutors have began to concentrate not solely to those that immediately took half within the Capitol assault, but in addition to those that helped foment the assault.
The 2 high defendants within the indictment — Alan Hostetter, 56, a former police chief turned yoga teacher; and Russell Taylor, 40, a rich graphic designer with a style for pink Corvettes — have been already underneath scrutiny by the federal government after the F.B.I. raided their properties in January. Mr. Hostetter and Mr. Taylor have been leaders of a gaggle referred to as the American Phoenix Venture, which was based to battle the “fear-based tyranny” of coronavirus-related restrictions. The group later embraced former President Donald J. Trump’s lies a few stolen election, and helped arrange a well-attended rally exterior the Supreme Court docket on Jan. 5, the place the audio system included Roger J. Stone Jr., a former adviser to Mr. Trump.
Mr. Hostetter’s spouse, Kristine, a schoolteacher, additionally attracted nationwide consideration this 12 months after she attended “Cease the Steal” rallies in Washington, setting off a furor of their hometown, San Clemente, Calif., that prompted an investigation by the college board into whether or not she had attacked the Capitol. She was cleared by the district in March.
But regardless of the eye from regulation enforcement, the information media and neighbors in Orange County, neither Mr. Hostetter nor Mr. Taylor had been publicly linked to the Three Percenters earlier than they have been charged on Thursday.
Beginning shortly after the election, the indictment mentioned, Mr. Hostetter used the American Phoenix Venture “to advocate violence in opposition to sure teams and people that supported the 2020 election outcomes.” On the finish of November, for instance, he posted a video on the group’s YouTube channel during which he accused those that had not challenged the outcomes of committing treason. “Some folks on the highest degree,” he mentioned, “must be made an instance of with an execution or three.”
The next month, at a rally in Huntington Seaside, Calif., Mr. Hostetter gave a speech repeating his dying threats in opposition to those that doubted Mr. Trump had gained. “Execution is the simply punishment of the ringleaders of this coup,” the indictment quotes him as saying.
To plan their function within the Capitol assault, prosecutors say that Mr. Hostetter, Mr. Taylor and a few of their co-defendants — amongst them, Derek Kinnison, 39, Felipe Antonio Martinez, 47, and Erik Warner, 45 — used textual content messages, Fb and the chatting app Telegram. Greater than 30 folks, the indictment notes, joined a Telegram group chat referred to as “California Patriots-DC Brigade,” a channel that Mr. Taylor described as being for “in a position bodied people which might be going to DC on Jan. 6” and are “prepared and prepared to battle.”
On Jan. 1, prosecutors say, Mr. Taylor despatched out a message on the group chat asking its members to disclose whether or not they had any army or law-enforcement coaching. “I’m assuming,” he wrote, “that you’ve got some kind of weaponry that you’re bringing with you.”
That very same day, in his introductory publish to the group chat, Mr. Kinnison wrote that he, Mr. Martinez and Mr. Warner have been a part of “so cal 3%,” in accordance with the indictment. Prosecutors say Mr. Kinnison connected a photograph to the Telegram message of the three males flashing a Three Percenter hand sign.
The connection of Mr. Hostetter and Mr. Taylor to the Three Percenters appeared considerably extra tenuous. On Jan. 3, the indictment says, Mr. Hostetter posted a message on the American Phoenix Venture’s Instagram account utilizing language related to the motion. “Solely 3% of Individuals really fought in our Battle of Revolution,” he wrote. “There’ll seemingly be 3% of us once more that may totally decide to this battle.”
Mr. Taylor’s lawyer, Dyke Huish, mentioned he had no information of any involvement by his consumer with the Three Percenters. “That’s one thing I’ve by no means heard of,” he added, “even remotely.”
Mr. Hostetter and Mr. Taylor emerged final 12 months as rising star’s in Southern California’s resurgent far battle. Each seem to have been radicalized on the onset of the pandemic, and have helped lead a brand new era of right-wing extremists to come back out of the seashore cities of Orange County, the place Richard M. Nixon turned an oceanside villa into his presidential getaway, and John Wayne saved his yacht, Wild Goose.
The realm was a cradle of the fashionable American conservative motion and a few of its most virulently racist, anti-Semitic and paranoid offshoots, such because the John Birch Society within the Sixties and neo-Nazi and skinhead teams who flocked to its surf spots twenty years later.
Till final 12 months, Mr. Hostetter appeared very distant from that historical past. A former soldier and police chief, he landed in San Clemente practically a decade in the past and launched into a 3rd profession as a yoga guru who specialised in “sound therapeutic” with gongs, Tibetan bowls and Aboriginal didgeridoos. He was conservative, in accordance with individuals who know him, however no extra so than many others in and round San Clemente.
Then got here the pandemic. He give up yoga, declared himself a “patriotic warrior” and based the American Phoenix Venture. The group started organizing protests, and shortly attracted Mr. Taylor. Their listing of enemies shortly grew to incorporate Black Lives Matter protesters, and Mr. Hostetter at occasions appeared to embrace QAnon, the conspiratorial motion that falsely claims Mr. Trump was secretly battling devil-worshiping Democrats and worldwide financiers who abuse youngsters.
Prosecutors say Mr. Kinnison and his Three Percenter companions have been open about their affiliation with the motion and apparently made plans to deliver firearms to Washington on Jan. 6. On Jan. 2, Mr. Kinnison despatched a textual content message to Mr. Warner, Mr. Martinez and one other co-defendant, Ronald Mele, 51, containing a photograph that confirmed him carrying a bandoleer of shotgun ammunition, in accordance with the indictment.
After Mr. Taylor spoke on the Supreme Court docket rally on Jan. 5 — “I’m Russell Taylor and I’m a free American” — prosecutors say he posted a video on an encrypted chatting app that confirmed an array of drugs on a mattress: a bulletproof vest, two hatchets, a walkie-talkie, a stun baton and a knife. The caption learn, “Now preparing for tomorrow.”
Decked out on this tools, the indictment says, Mr. Taylor marched from Mr. Trump’s speech on Jan. 6 to the Capitol with Mr. Hostetter and somebody recognized solely as Individual One. Mr. Kinnison and his group of Three Percenters, prosecutors say, approached the constructing individually and, not less than one in all them — Mr. Warner — entered by means of a damaged window.
Prosecutors don’t accuse Mr. Hostetter or Mr. Taylor of breaking into the Capitol, although they do allege that each males joined a mob of rioters on the constructing’s decrease west terrace who pushed by means of a line of regulation enforcement officers.
“I used to be pushing by means of traitors all day at this time,” Mr. Taylor wrote on a Telegram chat at 6:18 that night, prosecutors say. “WE STORMED THE CAPITOL! Freedom was totally demonstrated at this time!”