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Ohio couple with ties to Oath Keepers charged in Capitol attack

A married couple from Ohio with ties to the right-wing Oath Keepers are facing conspiracy charges in connection with the Capitol insurrection, according to court documents unsealed Friday.

Federal prosecutors said Bennie Parker, 70, and Sandra Parker, 60, “planned their attack in advance and communicated with one another before, during, and after their attack on the Capitol,” in coordination with members of the Oath Keepers, whose militants were at the front lines of the attack on the building.

These are the latest charges against people affiliated with the Oath Keepers, which has been an intense focus for the Justice Department as it investigates the involvement of extremists in the January 6 attack.

The Parkers were both charged with four federal crimes: Conspiracy, destruction of government property, obstruction of an official proceeding, and unlawful entry on restricted grounds.

A lawyer representing Sandra Parker declined to comment on Friday about the charges. A lawyer representing Bennie Parker did not immediately respond to several phone calls and emails seeking comment.

The retirees from Morrow, Ohio, allegedly coordinated their trip to Washington with Jessica Watkins, an Oath Keeper who was indicted in one of the most serious cases stemming from the insurrection. Prosecutors said Watkins and Bennie Parker discussed weapons, uniforms and lodging before the trip.

Around the time that lawmakers were certifying the Electoral College results, the Parkers were allegedly “operating as a group with several other similarly-attired members of the Oath Keepers Militia,” and moved in tactical formations, according to court documents. Sandra Parker breached the Capitol and Bennie Parker stayed outside but remained in communication with the group, prosecutors alleged.

Three days after the attack, Bennie Parker texted with Watkins about the nationwide FBI manhunt for Capitol rioters, according to texts obtained by investigators and mentioned in court documents.

“I wouldn’t worry about them coming after us,” Watkins allegedly told Bennie Parker.

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