Third Oath Keeper enters guilty plea in Capitol riot case

A third alleged member of the Oath Keepers has entered a guilty plea and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors investigating the January 6 Capitol riot

Mark Grods, a 54-year-old who admitted he brought firearms to D.C. and was part of the tactical “stack” formation that advanced toward the Capitol that day, entered a guilty plea Wednesday afternoon 
after cutting a deal with prosecutors, who describe the group as a large but loosely organized collection of individuals, some of whom are associated with militias.

The Oath Keepers are at the center of one of the highest profile conspiracy cases connected to the Capitol riot, with 16 alleged members charged together in a single indictment. In pleading guilty, Grods admitted to allegations that place him at the center of multiple key claims in that case. 

Grods pleaded guilty to two charges — criminal conspiracy and obstruction of an official proceeding — and prosecutors said his charges and plea negotiation were part of an ongoing grand jury investigation related to the 16-person case. They asked the courts to keep his charges under seal this week while he worked with the government and testified before the grand jury. 

A judge said Wednesday that Grods’ recommended sentencing guidelines would be between 51 to 63 months — a little over 4 to 5 years — with an estimated fine ranging anywhere from $20,000 to $250,000. Grods also agreed to pay $2,000 in restitution.

Prosecutors say he brought firearms to Washington, D.C., rode with other Oath Keepers in golf carts and was part of the military-style “stack” formation that stormed the Capitol that day.

No alleged Oath Keepers have been charged with firearms violations. Prosecutors have alleged in multiple court filings that some in the group brought firearms, but were aware of D.C.’s strict gun laws and opted to stow them outside of the city January 6 — a system prosecutors said was designed to provide access to the weapons. Grods admitted Wednesday that he brought his firearms to D.C. but gave them to another individual to store in a Virginia hotel, and his cooperation could add more weight to prosecutors’ claims about the group’s use of weapons.

Grods also admitted to attending or scheduling trainings for paramilitary combat tactics, recruiting others to support the January 6 operation and bringing paramilitary supplies to D.C., including combat uniforms, tactical vests, helmets and radio equipment.

Grods acknowledged he was part of a group who rode in a pair of golf carts towards the Capitol, “at times swerving around law enforcement vehicles,” prosecutors wrote, before parking the carts and continuing on foot towards the building.

Grods moved with others in a military-style “stack” formation through a restricted area toward the building, prosecutors said, and entered the Rotunda while carrying a large stick. He left the building minutes later, as law enforcement deployed pepper balls.

Two days after the siege, Grods admitted that another person told him to make sure “all signal comms about the op has been deleted and burned.” Grods told the person he had done so.

When arguing that the case should be kept under seal until Wednesday morning, prosecutors said that disclosure of his case could reveal the scope and direction of their investigation. Prosecutors also wrote, “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.”