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One year later, Ohio arrests tied to Jan. 6 remain mostly unresolved

Rioters try to break through a police barrier at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. Jessica Watkins and many others charged in the attack left behind a trove of videos and messages that have helped federal authorities build cases. [Julio Cortez / AP]
Law enforcement officers attempt to hold a barrier in place as rioters outside the U.S. Capitol building attempt to pull them down.

One year after the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol, 35 people allegedly involved in the riot have been arrested in Ohio so far. A total of more than 700 people have been charged for their role in the violent protest and breaching of building while Congress was certifying the results of the presidential election.

The defendants arrested in Ohio are charged in federal court with trespassing and property damage, obstructing official business and violently entering the Capitol. A few were charged with more serious crimes.

Christine Priola, a former Cleveland Metropolitan School District employee, was arrested Jan. 14, 2021, in Willoughby. She was charged with violent entry and unlawful activities and remained in custody until Feb. 12. Her case is pending.

Four of the defendants with an Ohio connection face federal conspiracy charges for their involvement with the Oath Keepers militia.

One Ohioan, Jessica Watkins, remains in custody because she was allegedly a key organizer and recruiter for the group.

The Oath Keepers members have trial dates later this month and in April. The government alleges that members of the militia set up heavily armed “quick reaction forces” at hotels outside Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2020.

During an online meeting attended by Watkins and founder Stewart Rhodes that was included in the indictment against Oath Keepers members, the group was preparing for the possibility that President Donald Trump would call on militias like theirs in an effort to hold onto power.

The vast majority of the defendants arrested in Ohio had no clear ties to the Oath Keepers and have pleaded not guilty. Five took plea deals for charges related to entering the Capitol building and received sentences ranging from probation to 45 days in prison.

Several others have sentencing dates scheduled for later this month.

In a speech Wednesday, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said additional cases, including against organizers, are still possible.

"We will follow the facts wherever they lead," Garland said. "The actions we have taken thus far will not be our last."

Matthew Richmond is a reporter/producer at Ideastream Public Media who focuses on criminal justice.