WASHINGTON – A security operations leader hired by the far-right group Oath Keepers, whose acquittal on conspiracy charges in the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot marked a rare setback for prosecutors, was sentenced Friday to two years probation.
Michael Greene, of Indianapolis, was convicted of misdemeanor trespassing after a trial in March but was acquitted of more serious charges after telling the jury on the witness stand that he was not a member and did not tell anyone to go to the Capitol.
Prosecutors had requested a year behind bars for Greene, but US District Judge Amit Mehta sided with defense attorneys who argued for probation. He noted that Greene did not enter the building or participate extensively in the group’s online chats, which had become increasingly violent before the riots.
“Frankly, we don’t have a lot of information about what his political views were or what he thought about the election outcome,” Mehta said.
Prosecutors described Greene as a «trusted lieutenant» of Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, who was sentenced in May to 18 years in prison after being convicted of seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6 attack. Prosecutors had accused Greene of conspiring with other Oaths to obstruct Congressional certification of President Joe Biden’s election victory.
Greene, however, said he never joined Oath Keepers, but essentially worked as a contractor, providing security services.
“I took a job. I am not an oath keeper. I took a job. I am not a criminal,” she said.
Greene, an Army veteran who served in Iraq, said he was asked to go to Washington to oversee Oath Keepers security services for figures including longtime Donald Trump confidant Roger Stone and «Stop the Steal» organizer Ali Alexander at events before the siege. They paid him about $5,000, his attorney said.
Greene took the defense witness stand at the Rhodes trial, telling jurors that he never heard anyone discuss plans to storm the Capitol. Rhodes testified during that case that he named Greene an «operations lead» for Jan. 6 after meeting Greene in 2017, when they helped with disaster relief after Hurricane Harvey.
Prosecutors said Greene had traveled with Rhodes before and knew the likely outcome when he called Oath Keepers to come to the Capitol that day. «Mr. Greene did not run into this riot,» prosecutor Kathryn Rakoczy said.
But Greene’s attorney said the evidence never added up to the charges prosecutors alleged, and the verdict reflected that.
“He came to do a job,” said William Shipley. «He’s in a really different position than some of the others.»
After sentencing, Greene said he is considering appealing the conviction to clear his record.
«I feel good, happy to be done with this now,» Greene said. «Now that it’s over, I just have to try to get back out there and try to get back to work.»
Five other associates with the Oath Keepers who stood trial with Greene were convicted of conspiring to obstruct congressional certification of the vote. In other trials, six Oath Keepers were convicted of seditious conspiracy for what prosecutors alleged was a violent plot to stop the transfer of power from Trump to Biden.
Authorities alleged that the Oath Keepers prepared themselves during the weeks leading up to Jan. 6, including training sessions and recruiting others to come to Washington. Prosecutors have said the extremist group hid weapons in a Virginia hotel in case they were needed, dressed in tactical vests and helmets and moved in an organized manner as it advanced toward the Capitol.
However, Rhodes and the other Oath Keepers have denied that there was any plot to storm the Capitol or stop the certification. Defense attorneys say they came to Washington only to see then-President Donald Trump speak or provide security for speakers at events leading up to the riots, and that those who entered the Capitol did so spontaneously.