Former California police chief Alan Hostetter went on a conspiratorial rant moments before a federal judge sentenced him to more than 11 years in prison for conspiring to bring weapons to the US Capitol during the January 6 riot.
The 58-year-old, who represented himself at trial, told the court on Thursday that the January 6 insurrection was an "obvious set up” that was faked by “crisis actors,” and claimed that Ashli Babbitt, a rioter killed by a police officer at the Capitol, was actually still alive.
The former chief of the La Habra Police Department was convicted in July on four felony counts, including conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding and carrying a dangerous or deadly weapon onto Capitol grounds.
Hostetter joined the Capitol riot with a hatchet in his backpack, and incited others to violence with a bullhorn on January 6, according to prosecutors. He was not accused of entering the Capitol building itself.
“Through his words and deeds on January 6, Alan Hostetter was a terrorist and it’s important that be said,” assistant US attorney Anthony William Mariano said during the sentencing, WUSA9 reports.
After his incendiary testimony, Hostetter was reportedly confronted by Babbit’s mother, and claimed, “This feels like it’s staged,” according to the station.
The conspiratorial tone persisted throughout the trial.
In his closing argument, Hostetter claimed the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump and that the FBI was corrupt.
The former Los Angeles-area police officer was arrested in 2021 as part of a group of six defendants.
One co-defendant, Russell Taylor, pleaded guilty in April. Four others were convicted last month. On an encrypted group chat, the men discussed being “fighters” seeking to bring “weaponry” on 6 January.
In 2020, Hostetter founded a nonprofit called the American Phoenix Project, which he used to recruit a group of men to go Washington after the election armed with hatchets and knives, according to prosecutors. The website of the group once described seeking “nothing less than a second American Revolution,” according to prosecutors.
The former law enforcement officer continued to make threats in the run-up to January 6.
“The enemies and traitors of America both foreign and domestic must be held accountable. And they will,” he said at a December “Stop the Steal” rally in Southern California. “There must be long prison terms, while execution is the just punishment for the ringleaders of this group.”
Over 1,000 people have been charged for crimes related to the Capitol riot, according to the Justice Department.