Former La Habra Police Chief Alan Hostetter, a prominent COVID-19 restrictions critic and activist, was indicted along with five other Southern California men in connection with the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, federal prosecutors announced Thursday.
Hostetter, a 56-year-old yoga instructor who lives in San Clemente, was charged along with Russell Taylor, 40, of Ladera Ranch, and four Riverside County men — Erik Scott Warner, 45, of Menifee, Felipe Antonio “Tony” Martinez, 47, of Lake Elsinore, Derek Kinnison, 39, of Lake Elsinore, and Ronald Mele, 51, of Temecula.
They are all charged with multiple felonies including conspiracy, obstructing an official proceeding and unlawful entry on restricted building or grounds. Taylor also faces a charge of obstructing law enforcement during a civil disorder and unlawful possession of a dangerous weapon on Capitol grounds. Warner and Kinnison are additionally charged with tampering with documents or proceedings.
Jonh Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at Citizen Lab, tweeted out court documents relating to the indictment of the six men on Thursday.
The men are accused of concocting a plan after the election of President Joe Biden to interfere with the certification of the electoral college vote in Congress on Jan. 6, federal prosecutors said.
The men coordinated their plans through Telegram, an encrypted messaging application, prosecutors said.
The defendants discussed and planned a cross-country road trip to the Capitol and promoted events sponsored by Hostetter’s American Phoenix Project, which opposes COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.
Warner is accused of starting a group text message threat on Dec. 28 to discuss with Mele, Kinnison and Martinez talked about the road trip, prosecutors said. The next day, Hostetter and Taylor had a discussion over text about whether to bring guns, prosecutors said.
The Telegram chat was started on Jan. 1 with more than 30 others, prosecutors said.
Taylor said on the chat, “I am assuming that you have some type of weaponry that you are bringing with you and plates as well,” prosecutors allege.
Kinnison said that he, Mele and Warner are members of the anti- government Three Percenter militia group.
Hostetter was released on a $20,000 signature bond and ordered to participate in a virtual hearing at 11 a.m. Monday, according to his attorney, Bilal Essayli.