Georgia Oath Keeper pleads guilty to seditious conspiracy in Jan. 6 case

Brian Ulrich of Guyton was one of two Georgians to plead Friday
A member of the Oath Keepers looks on as supporters of Donald Trump attend a rally protesting the 2020 election results in Washington, DC., on January 6, 2021. (Bryan Smith/ZUMA Wire/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

A member of the Oath Keepers looks on as supporters of Donald Trump attend a rally protesting the 2020 election results in Washington, DC., on January 6, 2021. (Bryan Smith/ZUMA Wire/TNS)

In online planning sessions with members of the far-right Oath Keepers militia prior to the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, Brian Ulrich signaled his readiness to do whatever it took to overturn the 2020 presidential election and keep Donald Trump in power.

“I made my peace with God before I ever joined,’” Ulrich wrote in an encrypted chat, according to the court records. “And if there’s a Civil War, then there’s a Civil War.”

But on Friday, the 44-year-old Ulrich fought back tears as he pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy and obstructing an official government proceeding. Under the terms of his plea agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, Ulrich pledged to cooperate and possibly testify in the prosecution of his co-defendants, including Oath Keeper founder Stewart Rhodes, in a trial tentatively set for July.

Brian Ulrich, 44 of Guyton, pleaded guilty on April 29, 2022 to seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot investigation.

Credit: Effingham County Sheriff's Office

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Credit: Effingham County Sheriff's Office

Ulrich is the second of 11 Oath Keepers being tried on sedition charges to plead guilty. The case is the only one out of hundreds of federal charges in the Capitol riot where the defendants face the rare federal charge of conspiring to overthrow the government. Most of the nearly 800 defendants face more ordinary charges ranging from assaulting police to disorderly conduct or joining in an unlawful demonstration.

Although sentencing was delayed as the larger case moves ahead, under the plea agreement Ulrich could face up to six and half years in federal prison for the charges. He also faces fines of up to $250,000.

In reading aloud the terms of the agreement from his Washington, D.C., courtroom, U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta twice stopped to give Ulrich time to compose himself.

“Mr. Ulrich, do you need a moment?” Mehta asked. “Are you OK, sir?”

Pulling himself together, Ulrich said the judge could continue. “It’s not going to get any easier,” said Ulrich, who resides in Guyton, a small city near Savannah.

It was a far cry from the bravado prosecutors say Ulrich displayed before and during the attack on the Capitol. According to court records, Ulrich pledged to bring his “budget” assault rifle and a backpack of ammo to the attack and purchased tactical gear including a backpack, sidearm holster, two-way radios and a medical tourniquet for the trip.

According to the plea agreement, Ulrich drove other Oath Keepers to the Capitol on a golf cart, weaving around police barricades, before advancing on the Capitol with his co-defendants in a military “stack” formation, with each member of the stack placing his hand on the member in front to force their way through the crowd to the building. Ulrich entered the Capitol at 3:22 p.m., moving toward the Rotunda only to be driven back when police used tear gas to clear the area.

Ulrich was arrested last August, but the sedition charge wasn’t added until January when police arrested Rhodes. The Texas leader was not at the Capitol during the riot, but prosecutors say Rhodes directed the plot, which included planning meetings, training, reconnaissance mission and instructions on overthrowing the government cribbed from the ouster of Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic in 2000.

In March, Alabama resident Joshua James, 34, became the first of the Oath Keeper defendants to plead guilty to seditious conspiracy and agree to testify. Rhodes and the remaining defendants have pleaded not guilty.

Also on Friday in a separate case, Jackson County resident Glen Mitchell Simon pleaded guilty for a second time for his role in the riot. Simon, 30, pleaded guilty in October to a misdemeanor charge of demonstrating inside the Capitol, which carries a possible six-month sentencing and fines. But prosecutors withdrew the plea agreement in January before he could be sentenced after discovering new evidence that showed Simon’s involvement went deeper.

On Friday before U.S. District Court Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell, Simon acknowledged that he used a metal bike rack to push back against police officers outside the Capitol and actively resisted police efforts to get him and other rioters to leave the building.

Glen Mitchell Simon of Jefferson pleaded guilty April 29, 2022, to   disorderly conduct in a restricted building. He will be sentenced in August and faces up to a year in prison.

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During the hearing, Howell read aloud from profanity-laced social media posts and selfie videos taken from Simon’s phone where he boasted about the Capitol attack, including the claim that it was a “revolution.”

“Did they invite us in? No, they didn’t,” the judge said, quoting Simon. “Free men don’t ask for permission.”

Under the terms of the new agreement, Simon, a high school dropout who runs a tree-cutting business in Jefferson about 60 miles northeast of Atlanta, pleaded guilty to another misdemeanor of disorderly conduct in a restricted building. That charge carries up to a year in prison and up to $100,000 in fines.

Simon is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 12. The pleas by Ulrich and Simon mean that exactly half of the 22 Georgians charged with participating in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot have pleaded guilty.

Our reporting

AJC Reporter Chris Joyner has been following the Jan. 6 riots since that violent day at the U.S. Capitol. He has written dozens of stories detailing the sprawling investigation that has led to 22 Georgians getting charged in relation to the insurrection. He has profiled some of the defendants to offer readers insight into Georgian’s role in the riots. He will continue to follow this important story.