A Newburgh tattoo shop owner already awaiting trial for his alleged role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot now faces a seditious conspiracy charge after being named in an indictment along with the leader of the Oath Keepers militia.
Roberto Minuta, 37, was one of 10 members of the right-wing group who were indicted by a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday in addition to Stewart Rhodes, the founder and leader of the Oath Keepers. The 48-page indictment was unsealed on Thursday.
Rhodes had been known to have been outside at the Capitol - and alleged to have exchanged phone calls with Minuta during the riot - but had not been charged before. With the new indictment, 19 Oath Keepers in all now face charges for their alleged participation in the Capitol attack and the plotting they are said to have done in advance to disrupt the certification by Congress of President Joe Biden's election victory.
Minuta, a 2002 Newburgh Free Academy graduate who now lives in Texas but has continued working at his Newburgh shop, tattooed Rhodes himself in 2020 during a rally attended by Oath Keepers outside his business. Minuta staged the gathering to open his business in public defiance of the state's lockdown of businesses for the pandemic.
In previous court papers, prosecutors had alleged that Minuta had raced across Washington in a golf cart with fellow Oath Keepers to join the Capitol invasion after hearing that Trump supporters had stormed the building. Dressed in a protective vest, goggles and other combat gear, he allegedly berated police guarding the Capitol before pushing past officers and entering the building with fellow Oath Keepers.
The new indictment adds only a few new details about Minuta's alleged conversations by encrypted text messages or phone with Rhodes and fellow Oath Keepers to plan their descent on Washington.
"Oath Keepers president is pretty disheartened," Minuta allegedly texted another Oath Keeper on Dec. 19, 2020. "He feels like it's time to go, the time for peaceful protest is over in his eyes. I was talking with him last night."
According to the indictment, Rhodes later included Minuta in a "leadership" chat group on the Signal app to plan their activities on Jan. 6. The Oath Keepers leader is said to have left his home in Texas on Jan. 3 to drive to Washington, spending $10,500 en route in Texas and Mississippi on a semiautomatic rifle and various firearms equipment.
On Jan. 5. the day before the Capitol attack, Rhodes, Minuta and other Oath Keepers all stayed overnight at the Hilton Garden Inn outside D.C. in Vienna, Virginia., where weapons and ammunition had been brought for distribution to the group's "quick reaction force" teams, according to the indictment.
Minuta was charged with four other crimes besides seditious conspiracy in the new indictment. They are: conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding; obstructing an official proceeding; conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging any duties; and evidence tampering, for allegedly throwing away the cell phone he used on Jan. 6.
The seditious conspiracy charge alone is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
In addition to the criminal case, Minuta was named last month in a federal lawsuit that Washington, D.C., filed against the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys and the members of those two groups who allegedly took part in the Capitol attack. The case seeks payment for the enormous policing costs Washington incurred as a result of the melee.
Minuta was arrested at his Newburgh business, Casa Di Dolore, on March 6 and released two days later after posting a $150,000 bail bond, secured with $25,000. He remains free while his case is pending, permitted by the court to leave Texas to make periodic trips to Orange County for his work.
Minuta is one of 13 current and former Hudson Valley residents charged in connection with the Capitol riot, two of whom have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.
Federal authorities have so far charged more than 725 riot suspects in all from across the country, including about 225 who are accused of assaulting or impeding police officers, according to the Department of Justice.
This article originally appeared on Times Herald-Record: Newburgh business owner now faces sedition charge in Capitol riot case