Clete Keller, a 3-time Olympian, indicted in the Capital riots case
Clatte Keller, a three-time U.S. Olympian in swimming, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to a felony charge related to her role in a January 6 raid on the Capitol with the intention of preventing certification of the Electoral College vote.
Keller was indicted on seven charges, but he pleaded guilty to one felony of obstructing an official proceeding before Congress in United States District Court in Washington as part of a bargain with prosecutors. As part of the agreement, Keller promised to help law enforcement with any ongoing investigations into the attack on the Capitol.
More than 600 people have been arrested in connection with the January 6 incidents, but Keller was most recognizable due to his 6-foot-6 frame and the fact that he was wearing an Olympic team jacket emblazoned with “USA”. . printed on the back.
According to his petition, Keller spent about an hour in the Capitol building on January 6. He hurled abuses at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer; took pictures and videos; and “flicked his elbow” to escape law enforcement officers who were trying to remove him from the building, according to the petition. He later destroyed the phone and a memory card he had, as requested, and threw away the jacket that had made him so unrecognizable.
No date has been set for sentencing. The charge carries a prison sentence of up to 20 years, but the first Capitol rioter was sentenced to eight months to plead guilty to the same charge.
Keller, 39, was a freestyle swimmer who competed in the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Olympics. He won a total of five medals, including two golds in the relay race, the most memorable being in Athens in 2004 when the American men defeated the undefeated Australian in the 4x200m freestyle relay.
But according to friends, family and former teammates who spoke with The New York Times, Keller was struggling to transition to life beyond swimming. He and his wife divorced and fought over custody of their three children, and Keller was out of his car for almost a year. During 2020, after his social media accounts were deleted, there was an increasingly intense focus on politics and former President Donald J. A strong allegiance to Trump was shown. Last November, while he was working for a real estate company in Colorado Springs, he traveled to Washington for a pro-Trump rally called the Million Mega March.
Two months later came the visit that led to Keller shouting along with hundreds of others in the Capital Rotunda. He was arrested the following week, and has since been out of jail on a personal bond. Keller has said almost nothing publicly other than a few words in court, and Wednesday’s plea was the most comprehensive detail she gave on January 6 regarding her actions and reason for being at the Capitol.
Keller’s attorney Edward B. McMahon Jr. did not immediately respond to a telephone message left Wednesday.
Alan Feuer contributed reporting.
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