J. Scott Applewhite / AP
A former California police chief and five other men have been charged with conspiracy in the Jan.6 attack on the United States Capitol, according to court documents released Thursday.
Among those charged is a former La Habra police chief who founded a far-right group called the American Phoenix Project, which was formed to protest the restrictions linked to the pandemic and also helped to push the lie. that the election was stolen from former President Donald Trump. At least some of the indicted men are believed to have ties to the extremist anti-government movement Three Percenters, court documents show.
They are accused of having conspired among themselves in a plot to block the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory. The US Department of Justice has filed similar lawsuits against members of other far-right groups, the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, as part of its legal action against the deadly January 6 riot.
In court documents, authorities describe how US Project Phoenix founder Alan Hostetter used his group in the weeks leading up to January 6 to advocate for violence against those who supported the election results. At a “Stop the Steal” rally in Huntington Beach on December 12, Hostetter warned that “Trump must be inaugurated on January 20”.
“And he must be allowed to finish this historic work of cleaning up the corruption in the cesspool known as Washington DC. America’s enemies and traitors, foreign and domestic, must be held accountable. And they do. There must be long prison terms, while execution is the just punishment for the leaders of this coup, ”Hostetter said, according to the indictment.
Ilal Essayli, Hostetter’s lawyer, said he expected to have more information after an afternoon court appearance. He said Hostetter surrendered to authorities and expected him to be released.
“From what I can say in the indictment, my client is not accused of committing violence,” Essayli said. “He did not enter the Capitol building, so we are very concerned about the nature and extent of the charges being made.”
Authorities said later in December, another accused, Russell Taylor, posted in a Telegram chat in response to a question about when to be on Capitol Hill on January 6: “I personally want to be on the steps and be there. one of the first to walk through the doors! “
On January 1, the six men joined a Telegram conversation called “The California Patriots-DC Brigade” with more than 30 other people to coordinate ahead of the riot, authorities said. Taylor wrote that the chat was used to “organize a group of fighters to be mutually supportive” and asked them to identify if they had any previous law enforcement or military experience or ” special skills relevant to our efforts “.
Days before the riot, Hostetter warned in a post on the American Phoenix Project’s Instagram account that “things will get worse in the United States in the coming days.”
On January 6, Taylor and Hostetter were among the group trying to get a line of officers through the West Terrace, authorities said. As they walked towards the building, Hostetter said “people have taken over their homes” while Taylor urged rioters to enter, authorities said.
Messages were left with lawyers listed on the court’s website for three other defendants: Erik Scott Warner, Derek Kinnison and Ronald Mele. One of the attorneys, David Kaloyanides, said he didn’t believe he would deal with Kinnison’s case.
It was not immediately clear if Taylor or another man, Felipe Antonio “Tony” Martinez, had lawyers or when they would appear in court.