By Shawn Raymundo
A federal judge late last month granted a request by conservative activist and U.S. Capitol riot defendant Alan Hostetter to act as his own attorney in his upcoming trial.
Hostetter, a former police chief-turned-yogi, faces multiple criminal charges related to the siege of the Capitol on Jan. 6, including conspiracy and obstructing an official proceeding. In early October, he asked the court to allow him to represent himself in the case.
Despite efforts to persuade Hostetter from self-representation, U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth on Thursday, Oct. 28, granted Hostetter’s motion, while also allowing Hostetter’s former attorney, Karren Kenney, to serve as his advisory counsel.
In an Oct. 11 video message posted online, Hostetter explained that he wasn’t firing his attorney, nor was he upset with her work on the case. Acknowledging that the two had some “minor” differences in legal strategy, the main issue was “a dollars and cents” one.
“If I were to continue on with an attorney through this entire process, because I’m going through a jury trial, for sure, and my guess is I’d spend another $75,000 to $150,000 going all the way through the jury trial,” he said in the video.
Hostetter on June 10 was one of six people arrested on federal conspiracy charges in connection to the Capitol riot in Washington, D.C. The former La Habra police chief was indicted on charges that include conspiracy, obstructing an official proceeding, and unlawful entry on a restricted building or grounds.
According to the 20-page grand jury indictment, Hostetter and fellow defendant Russell Taylor were among a group of rioters who had pushed through a line of police officers on the Lower West Terrace of the Capitol, and had urged others to follow.
Hostetter in his video called the case against him “an absolute joke,” arguing that it was a “a total frame job.”
Through his now-defunct group, the American Phoenix Project, Hostetter led marches against COVID-19 lockdowns and led rallies to burn face masks in San Clemente and other Orange County cities last year.
Hostetter, a staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump, also organized “Stop the Steal” rallies in California, as well outside the U.S. Supreme Court the night before the march on the Capitol.
Continuing to spread the false claim that Trump had won the 2020 election, Hostetter in his video said that during his trial he’ll convince members of the jury that the government conspired against him and concede, among other things, that the “election was stolen.”
“They’re going to have to say to themselves, ‘Yeah, the election was stolen, the government was overthrown, and Alan was right about COVID, the lockdowns, masking and vaccines, so case closed,’ ” Hostetter said in the video posted to BitChute.
He further claimed that evidence was planted against him and that even informants were “unlawfully and unconstitutionally” planted around him in the months leading up to the Jan. 6 insurrection.
“I intend to get to the very bottom of every informant that was unlawfully and unconstitutionally monitoring me, surveilling me, tracking me for months leading up to Jan. 6 with no probable cause and no right whatsoever, because all I was doing was leading protests against unconstitutional lockdown orders,” he said.
Those remarks echoed a statement he had posted to his American Phoenix Project website, explaining why he had to shutter the organization.
“The primary reason behind the pending dissolution of American Phoenix Project is that, completely unknown to me at the time, my Board of Directors was thoroughly corrupted and compromised back in the fall of 2020,” he wrote.
According to the indictment, Hostetler and a group of five other men arrested this past summer allegedly conspired “to obstruct, influence, and impede” the joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, when lawmakers were certifying the Electoral College votes.
Using social media and Telegram, an encrypted messaging app, the group of men—some of whom have self-identified as belonging to the Three Percenters militia group—coordinated travel plans to Washington, D.C., and promoted American Phoenix Project rallies.
In one chat titled “The California Patriots-Answer the Call Jan. 6,” the men also shared details about “gear” and weapons and firearms they were planning to bring on their cross-country road trips, the indictment stated.
A status conference hearing with the six defendants is slated for Dec. 3.
Shawn Raymundo is the city editor for the San Clemente Times. He graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in Global Studies. Before joining Picket Fence Media, he worked as the government accountability reporter for the Pacific Daily News in the U.S. territory of Guam. Follow him on Twitter @ShawnzyTsunami and follow San Clemente Times @SCTimesNews.