By Shawn Raymundo and Breeana Greenberg
Alan Hostetter, the former police chief and yoga instructor who became the face of San Clemente’s anti-lockdown movement during the pandemic, was convicted Thursday, July 13, on four charges related to his participation in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
United States District Court Judge Royce Lamberth found Hostetter, 56, guilty of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding; obstruction of an official proceeding; entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon; and disorderly or disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon.
For his role in the Capitol breach, Hostetter was indicted in June 2021, along with five other men, including his former associate Russ Taylor—who pleaded guilty this past April to a charge of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding.
“Mr. Hostetter and Mr. Taylor conspired together to obstruct and impede the Electoral College Certification,” Lamberth said in the notes for his oral ruling. “Mr. Hostetter and Mr. Taylor agreed to travel to Washington, D.C. to intimidate Congress on January 6 into challenging the Electoral College count and turning the selection of the next President over to the states.”
Based on testimony from Taylor and Hostetter’s own text messages, Lamberth further found that Hostetter possessed a hatchet when he entered the Capitol grounds.
“Mr. Hostetter knew the area was restricted, he knew he lacked lawful authority to be there, he knew he possessed an inherently dangerous weapon, yet he entered and remained anyway,” Lamberth said in the ruling notes.
Federal prosecutors accused Hostetter and Taylor of being part of a group of rioters who pushed through a line of police officers on the Lower West Terrace of the Capitol and had urged others to follow.
Court records show that Hostetter—who acted as his own attorney in the case—argued that the riot was orchestrated by federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
In claiming that the Jan. 6 riot was staged, Hostetter argued for an entrapment defense, which alleges that he would not have committed a crime if law enforcement had not persuaded or influenced him.
Hostetter stated in his pre-trial statement that it is “the only true and effective defense for ALL (legitimate) Trump supporters who have found themselves swept up in this federal scheme.”
In the ruling notes, Lamberth said “Mr. Hostetter has not presented any evidence that could make out an entrapment defense on the theory that the January 6 riot was a staged event.”
Lamberth further found that “even if Mr. Hostetter genuinely believed the election was stolen and that public officials had committed treason, that does not change the fact that he acted corruptly with consciousness of wrongdoing.”
“Belief that your actions are ultimately serving a greater good does not negate consciousness of wrongdoing,” Lamberth continued.
Additionally, Hostetter argued that no “(legitimate) supporters of President Trump would have gone to Washington, D.C. on J6 to disrupt the one event that gave them hope the election results might be investigated further and possibly overturned.”
Lamberth said Hostetter was “not being prosecuted for engaging in protected First Amendment activity,” adding that he made his decision “without regard to (Hostetter’s) political beliefs, which I believe he holds sincerely.”
“Mr. Hostetter has a right to believe whatever he likes about the 2020 Presidential Election, and to voice those opinions,” Lamberth said. “But the First Amendment does not give anyone a right to obstruct or impede Congress by making it impossible for them to do their jobs safely.”
Lamberth added that the First Amendment does not allow an individual to “enter a restricted area while carrying a dangerous weapon” either.
According to a media release from the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding and obstruction of an official proceeding carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Charges of entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon and disorderly or disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds carry a maximum 10-year prison sentence.
Hostetter is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 13.