A federal grand jury has indicted Alan Hostetter of San Clemente and Russel Taylor of Ladera Ranch on several counts for storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and conspiring to obstruct the certification of the 2020 election results.
The two Orange County residents are among six named in the federal document — which indicts Hoestetter on four counts and Taylor on six — for their involvement in the violent swarming of the Capitol grounds to contest Democrat Joe Biden’s successful election as U.S. President over Republican incumbent Donald Trump.
Both are charged with knowingly entering a restricted building or area of the Capitol grounds, and Taylor is charged with carrying a knife while doing so, per the federal indictment made public and filed into court records on June 9.
Hostetter’s attorney, Bilal Essayli of Essayli & Brown LLP, offered this statement over the phone when reached for comment:
“Mr. Hostetter is being charged for exercising his First Amendment rights. He did not enter the Capitol or engage in any acts of violence. He expressed his personal views and for that he is being targeted.”
Taylor’s attorney, Dyke Huish of Huish Law, said “Mr. Taylor will appear before a judge tomorrow (June 11) and enter a not guilty plea and we intend to challenge these charges.”
According to the indictment, the other men are California residents as well.
On Jan. 6, a large crowd formed around the Capitol as lawmakers were voting to certify the 2020 election results. The crowd eventually forced its way through police and into the grounds.
That afternoon, the crowds broke windows, rammed doors open, and assaulted Capitol police officers. More than 100 officers were injured and damage to the building added up to $1 million, according to a federal grand jury. One officer died and a member of the pro-Trump crowd was shot and killed, as a result of the insurrection.
That day prompted questions among many Orange County residents about the extent to which people from their area were involved.
Social media posts and videos circulating from the event, as well as FBI searches of Hostetter’s and Taylor’s residences earlier this year, further fueled speculation.
On top of that, the Orange County Sheriff’s Dept. placed one of its employees, Monica Alston, on leave pending an internal investigation earlier this year. Around that time, the FBI searched Alston’s home in Irvine.
Hostetter, who this week joined hundreds of public commenters speaking before the OC Board of Supervisors, has become one of the most vocal local protesters and organizers against government Covid-19 restrictions.
He started the American Phoenix Project, a YouTube channel with a presence on other social media platforms as well, to amplify his message. The platform vocally contested Trump’s electoral defeat last year.
Before taking a disability retirement and becoming a yoga instructor, Hostetter served a brief stint as police chief of La Habra in Orange County, and before that, deputy chief of police in Fontana in San Bernardino county.
According to the indictment, the federal grand jury in one count describes Taylor calling for people to arm themselves ahead of Jan. 6 and be prepared to fight in a group chat on the messaging service Telegram.
The indictment notes that at one point he asks Hostetter in the group chat: “Alan are you bringing firearms?”
Hostetter, according to the indictment, replied: “NO NEVER (Instagram now monitors all text messages … this has been a public service announcement)” followed by three laughing emojis.
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