Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the Oath Keepers, has been sentenced to 18 years in prison for his involvement in the Jan. 6 riot This marks the first sentence given to any defendant convicted of seditious conspiracy related to Jan. 6 and is the longest sentence handed down to any Jan. 6 defendant so far. The government prosecutors had sought a sentence of 25 years for Rhodes, who they claimed was the mastermind behind a plot to disrupt the transfer of presidential power forcibly. The plot included "quick reaction force" teams at a Virginia hotel to ferry weapons into Washington, D.C., if they were needed. The guns were never deployed. Before handing down the sentence, U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta addressed Rhodes directly, stating that he had been convicted of seditious conspiracy, among the most serious crimes an American can commit, and an offense against the country's people. The judge noted that Rhodes' motive was that he did not like the new President and that just because someone supported the former President did not mean they were a white nationalist. The judge also stated that Rhodes wanted Democracy in the country to devolve into violence and that the moment he was released, he would be ready to take up arms against the government. [tweet_embed]May 26, 2023[/tweet_embed] Rhodes had commanded fellow Oath Keepers to prepare for war, and the judge said that the country cannot have a group of citizens prepared to take up arms to foment a revolution. Rhodes slammed the prosecution as politically motivated, stating that he never went inside the Capitol and insisted he never told anyone else to do so. He claimed he is a political prisoner, and like President Trump, his only crime is opposing those destroying the country. In a first for a Jan. 6 case, Mehta agreed with prosecutors to apply enhanced penalties for "terrorism," under the argument that the Oath Keepers sought to influence the government through "intimidation or coercion." Judges in previous sentencings had shot down the Justice Department's request for the so-called "terrorism enhancement," which can lead to a longer prison term, but Mehta said it fits in Rhodes' case. The judge applauded law enforcement who responded to the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, stating that they laid their bodies on the line to protect Democracy as we know it. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn Rakoczy pointed to interviews and speeches Rhodes has given from jail, repeatedly alleging that the 2020 election "was stolen" and saying it would be again in 2024. In remarks just days ago, Rhodes called for "regime change." A lawyer for Rhodes, who plans to appeal his conviction, said prosecutors are unfairly trying to make Rhodes "the face" of Jan. 6. Attorney Phillip Linder told the judge that Rhodes could have had many more Oath Keepers come to the Capitol "if he really wanted to" disrupt Congress' certification of the Electoral College vote. Rhodes' sentence may forecast what prosecutors will seek for former Proud Boys national chairman Enrique Tarrio, who was convicted of seditious conspiracy alongside other leaders of his far-right group this month for what prosecutors said was a separate plot to block the transfer of presidential power. The Proud Boys leader will be sentenced in August and September. Another Oath Keeper convicted alongside Rhodes in November – Florida chapter leader Kelly Meggs – was expected to receive his sentence later Thursday. Two other Oath Keepers, acquitted of the sedition charge but convicted of other offenses, will be sentenced Friday. Four other members found guilty of seditious conspiracy at a second trial in January are scheduled to be sentenced next week.