Klete Keller, a three-time U.S. Olympian in swimming, pleaded responsible on Wednesday to a felony cost associated to his function in storming the Capitol on Jan. 6 with the intention of stopping the certification of the Electoral School vote.
Keller was indicted on seven costs, however as a part of a discount with prosecutors he pleaded responsible in United States District Courtroom in Washington to 1 felony depend of obstructing an official continuing earlier than Congress. As a part of the settlement, Keller promised to assist legislation enforcement with any persevering with investigation into the assault on the Capitol.
Greater than 600 individuals have been arrested in relation to the occasions of Jan. 6, however Keller was some of the recognizable, due to his 6-foot-6 body and the truth that he was carrying an Olympic group jacket with “USA” printed throughout the again.
In accordance with his plea, Keller spent about an hour in the Capitol constructing on Jan. 6. He yelled expletives about Nancy Pelosi, the Home speaker, and Chuck Schumer, the Senate majority chief; took images and video; and “jerked his elbow” to keep away from legislation enforcement officers who had been attempting to take away him from the constructing, based on the plea. He later destroyed the telephone and a reminiscence card he had with him, based on the plea, and threw away the jacket that had made him so recognizable.
No date for a sentencing has been set. The cost carries a sentence of as much as 20 years in jail, however the first Capitol rioter to plead responsible to the identical cost was sentenced to eight months.
Keller, 39, was a freestyle swimmer who competed in the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Olympics. He received 5 medals general, together with two golds in relay races, most memorably in Athens in 2004 when the U.S. males defeated the seemingly unbeatable Australians in the 4×200-meter freestyle relay.
However Keller struggled to transition to life past swimming, based on mates, household and former teammates who spoke with The New York Occasions. He and his spouse divorced and fought for custody of their three youngsters, and for practically a 12 months Keller lived out of his automotive. All through 2020 his social media accounts, since deleted, confirmed an more and more intense give attention to politics and a sturdy allegiance to former President Donald J. Trump. Final November, when he was working for a actual property firm in Colorado Springs, he traveled to Washington for a pro-Trump rally referred to as the Million MAGA March.
Two months later got here the journey that led to Keller yelling in the Capitol rotunda with tons of of others. He was arrested the subsequent week, and has since been out of jail on a private recognizance bond. Keller has stated virtually nothing publicly moreover a few phrases in court docket, and Wednesday’s pleading was probably the most in depth account he has given about his actions on Jan. 6 and his motive for being in the Capitol.
Keller’s lawyer, Edward B. MacMahon Jr., didn’t instantly reply to a phone message left on Wednesday.
Alan Feuer contributed reporting.