Hostetter Convicted On Four Felony January 6 Insurrection Counts

Former Fontana Assistant Police Chief Alan Hostetter has been found guilty of engaging in insurrection during the January 6, 2021 riots at the U.S. Capitol, where he exhorted an already agitated crowd to obstruct the certification of the November 2020 election in favor of Joseph Biden.
Judge Royce Lamberth, who heard the case against Hostetter as a bench trial after the defendant waived his right to a trial by jury, found that despite Hostetter’s professed and actual belief that the election had been stolen from then-incumbent President Donald Trump at the time of his action and his more recently-adopted and professed belief that several of those he was acting in concert with on the days leading up to January 6th as well as on the day of the protests were agents provocateur working on behalf of traitors within the government who had betrayed Donald Trump, the former lawman’s activity had crossed the line from legitimate protest to an effort to overthrow the legally-constituted government.
Hostetter was convicted of four felony counts — conspiring to obstruct and obstructing an official proceeding, trespassing and engaging in disorderly conduct with a dangerous weapon.
The contradictions and paradoxes embodied by Hostetter, the multiple chapters of his life and most particularly his recent legal travails are all consuming.After graduating from high school in 1982, Hostetter joined the Army, training as an infantryman. He was stationed at Fort Hood in Texas with the 1st Cavalry Division and did a tour of duty with the 3rd Infantry Division in Aschaffenburg, West Germany. In 1986, after leaving the Army, he was hired by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.
In 1989, he transferred to the Fontana Police Department. There, he developed a relationship with one of the department’s dispatchers, Wendy Michalski, whom he married shortly hereafter. Their son, Corey, who would later become a police officer himself with the Fontana and Upland police departments, was born in 1992. While with the Fontana Police Department, Hostetter worked in the patrol division, on the special weapons and tactics team, in the narcotics unit, detective bureau, traffic unit, internal affairs unit, and administration division. He was promoted to police corporal in 1993, sergeant in 1996, lieutenant in 2001, subsequently served in 2006 and early 2007 as the chief of the Fontana School District Police Department, returned to the Fontana Police Department as a captain in April 2007 and became assistant chief in December 2007.
His advancement in the department was paralleled by academic achievement. He obtained a bachelor of science degree in education from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and a master of public administration degree from California State University, San Bernardino.
Alan Hostetter was a graduate of the 212th session of the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy at Quantico, Virginia; Class 38 of the California Police Officers Standards and Training Command College; and Class 105 of the Sherman Block Supervisory and Leadership Institute.
In 2009, there was trouble in the Hostetter marriage. Though he was on the fast track to become police chief, and it was widely anticipated that he would succeed then-Police Chief Rod Jones upon his eventual retirement, Hostetter, perhaps because of his domestic situation, in the fall of 2009 applied for the soon-to-open police chief’s position in the Orange County city of La Habra, a city of 60,000, which at that time was less than a third of the size of then-190,000 population Fontana. In December 2009, Hostetter was selected to serve as chief from among the 20 candidates selected from the applicants for the La Habra job.
Hostetter began as La Habra police chief in January 2010, but remained in place only until May of that year, going out on leave and then taking a disability retirement officially effective as of August 26, 2010. He was 46 years old. He moved to San Clemente.
The following year, he began pulling his pension, which was then pegged at $132,907.32, through the California Public Employees Retirement System. In the years since, his pension, with three percent annual cost of living increases, has grown to $170,269.240.98.
In 2011, Hostetter began as an instructor/facilitator with the University of Phoenix, teaching undergraduate courses in ethics in criminal justice and graduate courses in budgeting. He remained as an instructor until 2013. In October of 2011, he founded a company, Public Sector Solutions, which provided investigative services to support private business with workplace investigations. He maintained that company until September of 2017.
Hostetter, who as a police officer had been an advocate of physical fitness for the officers he commanded, after his disability retirement underwent an upper-back/neck operation and began exploring alternate ways of remaining in good condition. He took up yoga and found it an excellent way to maintain flexibility, suppleness and muscle tone. He rapidly went from being a novice to a dedicated practitioner to a teacher.
In January 2017, he created Alpha Yoga of Orange County, which catered mostly to senior citizens and the wives of wealthy businessmen in San Clemente, Dana Point and San Juan Capistrano. The type of yoga he advocated was particularly focused on the healing and relaxing potential of hypnotic sound, and he would endeavor to create an atmosphere that used American Indian flutes, Tibetan bowls and Aboriginal didgeridoos to create a “sound bath” to serve as the atmosphere in which those who engaged in the exercises he led, stretches and poses known as asanas and vynyasas accompanied by breathing exercises known as pranayama, could get all of the benefits of the yoga experience. Alpha Yoga of Orange County offered relaxation guidance, sound healing, Reiki energy healing, wellness and sleep workshops.
To those who knew him in his previous life as a police officer, an existence in which force and aggression were routine, Hostetter’s transformation was profound, as he talked about eliminating everything other than “good vibes” and seeking out spiritual fulfillment, getting in touch with his own soul and how yoga could make such cosmic realizations for others possible.
Hostetter had made a remarkable physical transformation as well, having gone from the clean cut military/police officer model he had typified in his 20s, 30s and early 40s to a bearded and long-haired guru hippy type.
Then, in a very short period of time, shortly after the advent of the COVID-19 crisis, Hostetter made an abrupt retransformation. Having moved to the right as an infantryman, police officer and police chief, he rechanneled left as a yogi, and then lurched radically rightward as a self-styled conservative political activist. In April 2020, he abruptly closed down Alpha Yoga of Orange County, instead diverting practically all of his time and energy into the American Phoenix Project, a nonprofit organization, of which he was the director and, along with Russell Taylor, the owner of Ladera Ranch-based Taylor Industries LLC, a founder. The American Phoenix Project, he solemnly said, was“dedicated to moving America forward as we come out of this national ‘shelter-in-place’ nightmare.” Its broad objectives were to oppose what Hostetter and Russell saw as an effort by a corrupt federal, state and local government apparatus to use what they claimed was the COVID-19 hoax to force Americans to be vaccinated and stripped of their constitutional rights. Virtually overnight Hostetter had become the central figure in the resistance to the State of California’s program to limited the spread of the coronavirus.
In addition to Taylor, Morton Irvine Smith, whose family was instrumental in the founding of Irvine and who for nearly a generation had been prominent in Orange County conservative political efforts, was a key supporter of Hostetter in his efforts during this time, serving as an American Phoenix project board member.
Touting the movement he was creating, Hostetter said, “The first action of American Phoenix Project was to file a lawsuit against Gavin Newsom to take down all ‘shelter-in-place’ orders currently in place.”
That lawsuit failed, but Hostetter’s efforts drew to him a sizable contingent of residents either opposed to the government lockdowns from the start or who began to chaff under those restrictions as they continued week after week and month after month.
It was as if he had transformed from being the prophet of yoga, with dozens or scores of followers, to the messiah of resistance to the Deep State, with hundreds of faithful hanging on his every word.
Together with Russell Taylor, he sponsored protests against mandates that citizens wear masks out in public and he led rallies in Orange County against coronavirus restrictions in general during the summer of 2020, protesting beach closures, defying the civil authorities and daring the local police sent to break up the crowds to arrest him and his fellow protesters.
Of note, Robert Ramsey, with whom Hostetter had served the entirety of his career at the Fontana Police Department and who eventually acceded to the police chief position there in 2016 and retired in 2018 and himself retired to San Clemente, was often at the rallies Hostetter was hosting and leading, and he too went on record against the government’s action in seeking to enslave its citizens by increments through the lockdown justifications.
As 2000 progressed, with its health mandates issued on high from Sacramento continuing and the presidential election heating up, what might have been Hostetter’s reasonable objections to the sweeping and general nature of the rules intensified in scope and California health regulations and national politics dovetailed to the point where the reelection of Donald Trump took on for Hostetter the intensity of a messianic quest. Some who knew him well sensed that something had snapped that summer.
Former yoga students who had chance encounters with him on the street, at outdoor restaurants or in stores related how he grew intemperate and profane, cursing when discussing stay-at-home orders or business-closure mandates. One said Hostetter viciously upbraided him for wearing a mask. In virtually every discussion he was involved in relating to the lockdown and governmental mandates at that time or if anyone suggested the COVID-19 pandemic represented a legitimate health crisis that was best managed with precautions to limit the spread of the virus and protect those elements of the population most vulnerable to it, Hostetter flew into a rage. The government’s effort to reduce the strain on healthcare facilities and institutions – hospitals and both acute care and recovery/long term care homes – where those most critically impacted by the disease were to be treated, was an out-and-out ruse to compromise constitutional rights and liberty, he said. Hostetter would dismiss with anger and derision any expression of trust in California’s government or faith that Governor Gavin Newsom was seeking to protect the state’s citizens, insisting his interlocutor had been brainwashed or was a tool of the Democrats and the socialists who had commandeered the State of California and were ruling the roost in Sacramento.
Hostetter said the State of California’s response to the coronavirus outbreaks exposed the Democrats as power mad tyrants hell bent on lording it over California’s citizens. The Democrats in Washington, D.C. were attempting to use the virus as means of recapturing national political primacy, as well, he said.
The government had skewed the statistics on the disease by “monetizing COVID deaths,” that is, paying hospitals money for every reported COVID-related death of their patients, which he said had induced those hospitals to falsify the cause of death data those institutions kept to show that virtually all who died at those facilities in 2020 had contracted COVID-19.
A comparison of death statistics going back five years demonstrated, he said, “There’s no pandemic. There’s never been a local health emergency.”
He likened the government’s reaction to the COVID-19 circumstance to the holocaust, the genocidal extermination of a whole phase of the population that was being purposefully carried out. He equated self-quarantining to being “placed under house arrest. We’re going to be wearing masks for the rest of our lives, according to [Dr. Anthony] Fauci [the chief medical advisor to the president]. We are going to be digitally tracked for the rest of our lives. First masks, then vaccines, then vaccine passports. Next thing you know, you’re on the cattle cars.”
He accused Democratic officeholders and the Republicans who failed to oppose them of being “hack politicians. These politicians are bought off by Big Pharma and God only knows the corruption that is involved in keeping them dogging us and dogging us and dogging us like they have been for a year.”
As the 2020 election campaign headed toward the clubhouse turn, even those closest to Hostetter were concerned he was becoming unhinged, as he insisted that Donald Trump was a historic figure on par with or greater than the likes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln and that the 45th President represented the last hope for humanity, such that his reelection as president was imperative for the United States to survive as a nation.
On September 19, 2020, during a public address in Orange County, he referenced the trade war with China. “The United States was about to win that war and then that war went suddenly literally viral, manufactured in a Wuhan bio-weapons lab,” he said. “The China virus was unleashed on the world, with the Chinese Communist Party flying their infected citizens all across America and all across the world. And whether by design or simple opportunism, the domestic enemies that have been infiltrating and proliferating within the United States for generations now saw their opportunity six months ago to crash the hottest economy on Planet Earth and try to take out the best president ever. These domestic enemies have used this virus to divide us, to strike fear in us, to subjugate and oppress us, with the ultimate goal being to remove President Donald J. Trump, one of the most amazing and effective leaders this country has ever seen.”
Those around him said he was elated in the immediate aftermath of the election, when on election night it appeared that Donald Trump had narrowly gained reelection, seeming to have won in the crucial swing states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. But with results from the more populous major urban areas of those states coming in the following day, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin slipped from the Republicans grasp and on November 4, 2020, President Trump tweeted from @realDonaldTrump, “Last night I was leading, often solidly, in many key States, in almost all instances Democrat run & controlled. Then, one by one, they started to magically disappear as surprise ballot dumps were counted. VERY STRANGE, and the “pollsters” got it completely & historically wrong!”
From that point on, President Trump and his supporters propounded that the election was being stolen.
Eleven days after the election, a million-man Make America Great Again March aimed at convincing government officials that a recount of the presidential election votes was in order was organized to take place in the nation’s capital. Hostetter resolved to attend. On November 12, 2020, during his drive from California to the march in Washington, D.C. to support the president, Hostetter videoed himself as he was driving through Arkansas, noting that he was on schedule to arrive in Virginia that evening.
“It was so brazen what they did to us, the theft of this election,” he said on the video. “They did this to us in broad daylight. They stole this election while everybody was watching, and they were flipping us the middle finger as they did it. The Deep State has been assuming power in this country and slowly taking everything over in this country. There’s been no honest vote probably in decades, if not longer. They think they’re firmly in control and they’re about to be proven otherwise.”
When the million-man MAGA March did not result in reversing the presidential election outcome, President Trump’s supporters and their efforts to prevent what they said was the theft of the election coalesced around the hope that Vice President Mike Pence would use his authority as president of the Senate to prevent the hijacking of the election from occurring. President Trump’s advocates believed that when the House of Representatives and the Senate met in a joint session to certify the election, Pence could overturn the election results in favor of Joseph Biden in key swing states by mandating that votes cast there which were in dispute not be counted, thereby making a determination that the Trump-Pence ticket had prevailed in the presidential/vice presidential election. The “Stop the Steal” movement was born and Hostetter became its self-appointed Southern California leader.
When Trump tweeted, “Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election,” both Hostetter and Taylor saw that posting, and each reported that it had a profound impact on them. Trump followed up with, “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”
According to federal officials, Taylor and Hostetter reacted to that signal from the president in a text exchange in which they resolved to travel to the Capitol in order to “intimidate Congress.”
While yet in Southern California in December 2020, at rallies in Orange County, Hostetter appealed to as many “patriots” as possible to heed the president’s call and go to Washington ahead of the joint session of Congress to certify the election results on January 6 in order to protest that certification, which would be, if it went to Joseph Biden, he insisted, invalid.
At that time, Hostetter spoke almost exclusively in circumstances where he was surrounded by like-minded Trump supporters. On two known occasions, when someone present asked Hostetter what evidence he could marshal to show the election had in fact been stolen, violence nearly erupted.
During one of those rallies, Hostetter propounded that the “elected whores,” meaning the members of Congress, should “fix this mess and keep America America.” Allowing the crooked Democrats who had stolen the election to put their kingpin Joseph Biden in the White House was tantamount to treason, he said, which “patriots” would not stand for. Those members of Congress directly participating in the theft – meaning the Democrats – and the ones passively allowing it to happen – meaning the Republicans who were RINOs or Republicans In Name Only – would suffer the fate of being “dragged out by their hair and tie[d] to a fucking lamppost,” he said.
During the anti-masking and anti-pandemic restriction campaign that took place earlier in 2020 and the pro-Trump campaign efforts of late summer and fall 2020, Hostetter and the 39-year-old Taylor had loosely affiliated themselves with Felipe Antonio “Tony” Martinez, 47 of Lake Elsinore, Erik Scott Warner, 45 of Menifee, Derek Kinnison, 39 of Lake Elsinore and Ronald Mele, 51 of Temecula, all of whom were involved to a lesser or greater extent in the Southern California Make America Great Again, Three-Percenter, QAnon and Proud Boys movements, as well as Morton Irvine Smith, 55 of San Juan Capistrano, a sixth-generation member of the Irvine family that was responsible for the development of the city that bears his middle name.
Taylor, Warner, Martinez, Kinnison and Mele all looked up to Hostetter, based on his military and police experience, his charisma and the financial independence his police pension provided him, which allowed him to devote so much time to conservative political causes. All became charter members of the American Phoenix Program. In response to the president’s call to make a nationwide and coordinated effort focused on the election certification that was scheduled to take place on January 6, 2021, the six began to coordinate while they were in Southern California to sojourn to Washington, D.C. in early January 2021 so they might rendezvous there ahead of the election certification to engage in various efforts to further the “Stop the Steal” effort, such as speechmaking and inciting the masses they anticipated would be assembled there to action.
Using various messaging applications and social media, including the encrypted messaging application Telegram, Hostetter, Taylor, Warner, Martinez, Kinnison and Mele communicated with one another and shared information regarding progress being made internally in the government toward certifying the election, coordinating their travel to Washington, D.C., and promoting events sponsored by the American Phoenix Project.
On December 28, 2020, Warner initiated a group text message thread in which he, Mele, Kinnison and Martinez discussed logistics and expenses for a cross-country road trip. On December 29, Hostetter and Taylor texted each other regarding travel and whether they would bring firearms.
On January 1, Taylor created a Telegram chat called “The California Patriots-DC Brigade,” which the defendants, along with more than 30 others, joined and used to identify themselves, communicate and coordinate with each other. In the “about” section, Taylor wrote: “This group will serve as the Comms for able bodied individuals that are going to DC on Jan 6. Many of us have not met before and we are all ready and willing to fight. We will come together for this moment that we are called upon.”
Using Telegram, Taylor told the other five they needed “to have each other’s backs and ensure that no one will trample on our rights” and “we need to be aware of possible threats. I am assuming that you have some type of weaponry that you are bringing with you and plates as well.” Taylor also asked members to identify if they had previous law enforcement experience, military experience or “special skills relevant to our endeavors.”
Kinnison told the others that he, Mele and Warner were “[l]eaving tomorrow and driving instead of flying because our luggage would be too heavy. We will have lots of gear from medical kits, radios, multiple cans of bear spray, knives, flags, plates, goggles, helmets…I think we should clear all text in this chat in the morning of the 5th just in case for opsec [operational security] purposes.”
Kinnison, Mele, Martinez and Warner exchanged plans on a group text thread with regard to coordinating and planning their trip, including whether they wanted to bring firearms with them on their cross-country drive. Mele told the group, “shorter the better. Mine will be able to be stashed under the seat. I’ll bring it. 18” barrel.”
Morton Irvine Smith traveled to Washington, D.C. separately from Hostetter, Taylor, Warner, Martinez, Kinnison and Mele to participate in the January 6, 2021 protest.
On January 5, at a rally near the U.S. Supreme Court, Alan Hostetter told a frenzied crowd, “Our voices tomorrow are going to put the fear of God in the cowards and the traitors, the RINOs and the communists of the Democrat Party. They need to know, we of the people, 100 million strong, are coming for them if they do the wrong thing.” He told those assembled that they should ready themselves for “war tomorrow” to be carried out against the “vipers” in Congress who were refusing to declare the election of Joseph Biden null and void.
At the same rally, Russell Taylor said, “In these streets we will fight and we will bleed before we allow our freedom to be taken from us. We will not return to our peaceful way of life until this election is made right.”
They would never give in to communists, the Deep State or Antifa, Taylor vowed.
At 11:28 p.m. on January 5, Taylor posted a photo to a chat on another encrypted messaging service showing gear arranged on a bed, including a khaki backpack, a black plate-carrier vest, two hatchets, a walkie talkie-type radio, a stun baton, a helmet, a scarf and a knife. In the caption, he wrote, “Now getting ready for tomorrow.”
On January 6, the defendants congregated on the National Mall for the rally, where Mele, Martinez, Kinnison and Warner posed for a photo. Martinez, Kinnison and Warner flashed a hand signal showing affiliation with the Three Percenter group. Taylor, Hostetter and others walked down Pennsylvania Avenue toward the Capitol, and Taylor took a selfie-style video as he walked, in which he stated, “We are on the move. Heading up to the Capitol.” At 2:13 p.m., Warner entered the Capitol through a broken window. At approximately 2:30 p.m., Taylor and Hostetter joined rioters on the lower west terrace who were pushing through the line of law enforcement officers seeking to keep the crowd from advancing. Taylor was carrying a knife in the front chest pocket of his plate carrier vest and urged on rioters before pushing through the police line and moving up the stairs and onto the Upper West Terrace.
Taylor at that point beckoned the rioters, “Move forward, Americans,” and told the officers seeking to hold the line against the rioters, “Last chance boys. Move back!” At that point, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Taylor, closely followed by Hostetter, pushed through the area that the capital police had been blocking, moved up the stairs onto a structure erected for the Inauguration and continued moving up on to the Upper West Terrace.
Once Taylor and Hostetter were in place on the Upper West Terrace, Hostetter addressed the crowd, saying, “The people have taken back their house. Hundreds of thousands of patriots showed up today to take back their government!” Taylor yelled to the crowd, “Inside!” Taylor and Hostetter then moved toward the Capitol building.
At 2:38 p.m., the plate-carrier vest clad Martinez and Kinnison, wearing a gas mask, made it onto the restricted are on the Upper West Terrace of the Capitol Building.
The Sentinel has seen no direct evidence that Mele made it onto the West Terrace, though a video depicts him on the steps next to it. In that video, he can be heard saying, “We stormed the Capitol.”
At 6:18 p.m., Taylor posted to Telegram, “I was pushing through traitors all day today. We stormed the Capitol! Freedom was fully demonstrated today!”
Hostetter posted a photo to his American Phoenix Project Instagram account of himself and Taylor taken from the Upper West Terrace of the Capitol in which a crowd of rioters can be seen in the background. Hostetter captioned the photo thusly: “This was the ‘shot heard round the world’ … the 2021 version of 1776. That war lasted 8 years. We are just getting started.”
Between 7:52 and 9:11 p.m., Taylor sent text messages to several people, saying that he “stormed the capital (sic)” but because he “had weapons,” he did not go inside. When asked by one of those he was texting what was to happen next, Taylor responded, “Insurrection.”
Hostetter, Taylor, Warner, Martinez, Kinnison and Mele returned to their homes in Southern California later that month. On January 27, 2021, the FBI served search warrants at Hostetter’s San Clemente and Taylor’s Ladera Ranch homes.
On May 20, 2021, in San Clemente, the stay-at-home orders were still in effect although not being followed and the fencing around the beach parking lots was still in place as a means of discouraging people from using the beach, although two members of the city council at that time were pressing to have the fence removed. Hostetter organized a protest against the stay-at-home orders and the beach use restrictions, which midway into the event turned into an attempt to tear down the fencing. In a gesture reminiscent of the anti-Vietnam War protesters Hostetter would have despised as communists or fellow travelers, he chained himself to the fence and was himself arrested, booked for inciting a riot, trespassing, destruction of city property and resisting arrest.
Less than a month later, the state charges he was facing in Orange County Superior Court became a virtual irrelevancy when on June 10, 2021, a federal indictment naming Hostetter, Taylor, Warner, Martinez, Kinnison and Mele was unsealed. It charged them with participating in the January 6, 2021 Washington, D.C. insurrection, alleging that in so doing they disrupted a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol to tally the electoral college votes for the November 3, 2020 election. On the same day, arrest warrants for Hostetter and the five others were returned and executed. Morton Irvine Smith was not indicted.
Hostetter retained attorney Bill Essayli, who had run unsuccessfully as a Republican for the California Assembly in 2018 and who has since, in 2022, succeeded in obtaining a berth in California’s lower legislative house. Essayli made generic and blanket denials of any wrongdoing on his clients behalf. Subsequently, in hearings before the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia where the case against him and his co-defendants was held, Hostetter was represented by John Pierce and Karren Kenney.
Initially, in keeping with the dictum of one of the leaders of the American Revolution, Benjamin Franklin, that those involved in rebellion must “hang together or most certainly we shall all hang separately,” Hostetter put on a united front with Taylor, Warner, Martinez, Kinnison and Mele.
In October 2021, however, Hostetter undertook a radical change of strategy in his legal defense. On October 14 of that year, Hostetter told U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth, who oversaw his case, that he wanted to represent himself, basically because of financial circumstance, his stated rationale for doing so being that the federal government knows that it has no case against him and was proceeding with the criminal charges in an effort to both discredit him and bankrupt him financially.
Lamberth said that whatever Hostetter’s impressions were of the case against him and the justice system and despite his knowledge of the law gained by his more than 23 years as a police officer, it was ill-advised for him to seek to represent himself in the legal arena with which he has virtually no expertise. He told Hostetter he had “never seen a pro se defendant actually succeed. A trained lawyer would defend you far better than you could defend yourself.”
Hostetter intimated to Lamberth that he believes the Justice Department and the courts are corrupt, and that he wanted the opportunity to illustrate that through his trial, and did not want to be hampered by an attorney who is likewise corrupted by the system. He said he would be willing to be advised though not represented by an attorney who was not a member of any secret societies such as the Masons, Book and Snake and Skull and Bones.
Ultimately, at Hostetter’s insistence, Lamberth consented to Hostetter acting as his own attorney.
Thereupon, Hostetter made a sharp break with his codefendants.
Asserting he was the target of a “classic FBI counterintelligence program operation” and that he had come to believe that at least some of those among Taylor, Warner, Martinez, Kinnison and Mele and perhaps all are government informants, Hostetter sought to have the charges against him dismissed.
Referencing “secret societies,” including Freemasons and the Skull and Bones fraternity at Yale University and religious “cults” such as Scientologists and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Hostetter in a motion to the court ultimately rejected by Lamberth said he was targeted by the government and its Justice Department and the FBI for taking a stand in opposition to “Covid-19 lockdowns and stay-at-home orders” instituted during the coronavirus pandemic.
Hostetter stated he believed that his allies in the fight against government-imposed COVID-19 precautions – Taylor, Warner, Martinez, Kinnison, Mele and Irvine Smith – were being directed by the government to insinuate themselves into his orbit in order to entrap him.
“The government attempted to concoct, direct and supervise the enterprise from start to finish,” according Hostetter’s motion. Despite what he said was “their incessant efforts to direct defendant into criminal activity,” Hostetter said, he did not take the bait and had “never engaged in criminal activity.”
Prime candidates for those who were serving as government informants, Hostetter claims, are Taylor, his ally in the formation of the American Phoenix Project, and Irvine Smith.
Judge Lamberth denied Hostetter’s motion.
Hostetter initially declared his intention of insisting on a speedy trial, but the deadline for the government putting on its case against him was tolled when he himself made motions which suspended the trial date countdown. On January 16, Hostetter entered a waiver of jury trial, consenting to have Judge Lamberth hear all of the charges against him.
In the lead up to the trial, Hostetter sought to convince Lamberth that the federal government had engaged in an elaborate effort to entrap him and that despite nearly a year of resisting COVID-19 restrictions and his efforts to resist the certification of Joseph Biden’s victory in the 2020 election, “three fundamental pillars” undergirded his defense: that the 2020 election was stolen from President Donald J. Trump; that the challenge to the November 2020 vote was taking place independent of him and that the assault outside and inside the Capitol that took place on January 6 was a “false flag operation” staged by “federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies.”
Hostetter’s defense in much of its aspect dwelt upon the government’s use of “false flag” operatives or “plants,” that is, individuals who are masquerading or pretending to be something they are not and inveigling or entrapping innocent individuals into engaging in illegal activity they would otherwise not take part in.
Prior to trial, Hostetter had sought to convince Judge Lamberth that Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the Oath Keepers, had been secretly acting as a government informant, compromising those who were seeking to prevent Joseph Biden’s theft of the 2020 election to the Democrats. To prevent those who were being informed upon from realizing they were being betrayed by Rhodes, Hostetter said, the government had filed sedition charges against him in order to disguise the fact that Rhodes had been working with the government.
Ahead of trial, Hostetter told Judge Lamberth that he has come to believe that Taylor, Warner, Martinez, Kinnison and Mele, other members of the Three Percenter militia movement and even Proud Boys leader Henry “Enrique” Tarrio tried to infiltrate the American Phoenix Project on behalf of the government as a “special project” because he had “shown some leadership ability.”

Judge Lamberth dismissed those assertions as groundless. “You don’t have any facts to support your allegations,” he said.
When the trial began, Hostetter in his opening statement sought to argue that the government had invited chaos on January 5 by lax security around the Capitol to create a crisis so that a rush to certify Joseph Biden as president would take place. “Our country has been overthrown,” Hostetter said on the first day of trial, emphasizing his continuing belief that Donald Trump was the real winner of the 2020 election. “This whole thing is corrupt.” With the Capitol lightly guarded in the face of massive protests, he indicated, security was soon overwhelmed, at which point the nation’s lawmakers had a pretext to certify the election.
At issue in the trial was the implication the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination, Hostetter’s role as his own attorney in which he skirted Fifth Amendment issues and the interplay between the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and the Sixth Amendment Right to examine all witnesses against a defendant. Given that Hostetter ultimately claimed that his one-time co-defendants Taylor, Warner, Martinez, Kinnison and Mele are actually government agents who were working to entrap him Judge Lamberth severed his case from that of Warner Martinez, Kinnison and Mele, who likewise stood accused of conspiring to disrupt the certification of the election on January 6. Because they had Fifth Amendment rights not to incriminate themselves, their testimony against Hostetter could not be compelled and his right to cross examine anyone who would testify against him would have required that they be subject to such cross examination if their testimony had been used.
Prior to Hostetter’s trial beginning, Taylor had entered a guilty plea, which carried with it an agreement to cooperate in the prosecution of Hostetter. Thus, Taylor was not in a position to assert his fifth amendment right against self incrimination and was called by the prosecution. Hostetter, somewhat unskillfully, sought to use the prosecution’s use of Taylor’s testimony against him to reinforce his assertion that he was being set up by the government. At one point, Hostetter told Lamberth, “My opinion is that the entire thing was staged.”
When Hostetter had the opportunity to cross examine his one-time ally in the fight against governmental oppression, he asked Taylor if he was surprised the Capitol wasn’t secured better than it was. Taylor said he was.
Nevertheless, the action Hostetter and Taylor engaged in on the Capitol grounds toward the Upper West Terrace was damning. Prosecutors produced for Judge Lamberth a video of Hostetter on the terrace stating, “The people have taken back their house. Hundreds of thousands of patriots showed up today to take back their government!” as well as a picture of himself and Taylor he posted to an Instagram account that said, “This was the shot heard round the world!…the 2021 version of 1776. That war lasted 8 years. We are just getting started.”
Lamberth, a Ronald Reagan-appointee with a pro-law enforcement bent, was favorably disposed toward Hostetter on at least two accounts – the defendant’s military and law enforcement background and willingness to place himself entirely in the judge’s hands by accepting a bench trial in which he trusted Lamberth to serve as the jury. Lamberth accepted that Hostetter was absolutely convinced that the election had been stolen from President Trump in the course of the 2020 election. And the judge had no problem with the ideological precepts that Hostetter had adopted. It was the former police chief’s advocacy of action and violent action in particular that proved problematic. Judge Lamberth found Hostetter’s belated disavowals of those advocacies , which unfortunately for him had been memorialized in multiple cases on video, unconvincing.
Taylor, led through his testimony by the prosecution, acknowledged coming onto the Capitol grounds carrying a hatchet as well as a knife and a stun baton in the company of Hostetter, who, he testified was in possession of a hatchet at that point. He and Hostetter, Taylor testified from the witness stand, were involved in what he now freely admitted was a conspiracy to prevent Congress from certifying the election. Hostetter, with the skill of a jailhouse lawyer at best, sought to convince Judge Lamberth that his former associate in the American Phoenix Project was actually a participant in the federal government’s conspiracy to railroad him because he was an effective dissident fighting COVID-19 mask mandates, lockdowns and the Democrats’ efforts to commander the White House, the Congress and the other machinery of government. Lamberth wasn’t buying it. Hostetter, contradicting Taylor, maintained that he did not have possession of the hatchet, which had been referenced during the Telegram communications while Hostetter, Taylor, Warner, Martinez, Kinnison and Mele were making their preparations to attend the protests relating to the election certification, because it had been stolen from his vehicle. The U.S. Attorney’s Office maintained that the hatchet was in Hostetter’s possession when he was among the mob that broke the police lines on the Capitol grounds.
In attempting to bolster its case against Hostetter, the U.S. Attorney’s Office presented the testimony of police officers who witnessed the violence at the Capitol firsthand, video of the protest and chaos, including Hostetter’s statements, and testimony of FBI agents indicating Holstetter had conspired with Taylor, Warner, Martinez, Kinnison and Mele to attend the Stop the Steal rally and interrupt the certification of the election.
Hostetter unequivocally joined other rioters on the lower West Terrace of the Capitol who were pushing through a line of law enforcement officer trying to hold them back, officers testified. Hostetter and Taylor then pushed through the law enforcement line moved through restricted areas of the Capitol grounds, the officers testified.
There was a presentation of Hostetter’s effort at an incitation to violence with the playing of a video he made after the 2020 election in which he said, “traitors need to be executed.” The prosecution also emphasized that he promoted January 6, 2021 as a day upon which “patriots” were to make a last stand. In one video which he made in November 2020, Hostetter was heard uttering “Some people, at the highest levels, need to be made an example of: an execution or two or three. Tyrants and traitors need to be executed as an example so nobody pulls this shit again.”
Hostetter did attempt with several witnesses, including Capitol police officers, to determine why there was not higher or more substantial fencing around the Capitol or more officer on duty there on January 6.
Hostetter did not make any substantive showing of evidence deemed convincing by Judge Lamberth to flesh out earlier motions he had submitted asserting that his circumstance was of a piece with corruptions of the federal government that included John F. Kennedy’s assassination to the September 11, 2001 attacks on the New York Trade Center to Tucker Carlson’s firing from Fox News.
In his closing argument Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Mariano said “There is no ‘the police didn’t stop me in time’ defense. If Alan Hostetter wants to know what could have been done to prevent January 6, he could start by looking in the mirror.”
“Citizens can make up their minds on politics or other bases,” Judge Lamberth said, asserting Hostetter had marshaled no evidence for his claim that the riot was “staged. Courts have got to have evidence.”
Throughout 2020 and right up to just weeks before his indictment, Hostetter, as the founder and leader of the American Phoenix Project, presented himself to the world as one of the most outspoken and dynamic firebrands in the new American patriotic movement, protesting governmental COVID precautions and disputing the 2020 election outcome. After his indictment, he maintained he had been entrapped by governmental agents who had lured him to join the faux revolution he led.
Hostetter, the judge said, “has not presented any evidence that could make out an entrapment defense on the theory that the January 6 riot was a staged event.”
In his findings, Judge Lamberth stated he did not believe Hostetter’s claim that the hatchet had been stolen out of his vehicle and he didn’t have it in his backpack on January 6, 2021.
Upon consideration of all of the evidence and testimony, Judge Lamberth found Hostetter guilty of conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding; obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting; entering and 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.
Lamberth, while saying Hostetter, “has a right to believe whatever he likes about the 2020 presidential election and to voice those opinions,” he did not have license to prevent the government from functioning.
“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, and it certainly does not give anyone a right to enter a restricted area while carrying a dangerous weapon.”
Citing the consideration that Hostetter’s actions disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress convened to ascertain and count the electoral votes related to the presidential election, prosecutors asked for Hostetter to be jailed immediately. Judge Lamberth declined that request, scheduling a sentencing hearing for October 13. Conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding and obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting both carry a statutory maximum of 20 years in prison. The charges of entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon and disorderly or disrupting conduct in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon both carry a statutory maximum of 10 years in prison.

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