Ex-Orange County police chief convicted of conspiracy in Jan. 6 riot

Alan Hostetter speaks at a rally in Costa Mesa with the U.S. flag in the background.
Alan Hostetter speaks at a rally in Costa Mesa in August 2020. The ex-La Habra police chief was convicted on four counts Thursday for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.
(Raul Roa / Los Angeles Times)
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A former La Habra police chief was convicted Thursday of joining the riot at the U.S. Capitol with a hatchet in his backpack and plotting to stop Congress from certifying President Biden’s 2020 electoral victory.

A judge in federal court in Washington, D.C., heard testimony without a jury before convicting Alan Hostetter, a right-wing activist and vocal critic of COVID-19 restrictions who defended himself at his bench trial with help from a standby attorney.

Hostetter used his closing arguments to spin conspiracy theories about the Jan. 6, 2021, riot. He falsely claimed the 2020 election was stolen from former President Trump, portrayed himself as a victim of FBI corruption and referred to the mob’s attack as a “federal setup” involving “crisis actors wearing costumes.” He downplayed violence at the Capitol, referring to the riot as “basically the equivalent of a three-hour hissy fit.”


U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth told Hostetter that no reasonable person — let alone a veteran police officer — would believe that it was legal to use mob violence to obstruct Congress.

“Belief that your actions are for a greater good does not negate consciousness of wrongdoing,” Lamberth said.

Ladera Ranch resident Russell Taylor agreed to a plea deal in federal court in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection.

April 20, 2023

Hostetter — who previously served as police chief of the La Habra Police Department — was convicted on all four counts, including conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding and entering a restricted area with a deadly or dangerous weapon. The judge scheduled sentencing for Oct. 13 and denied a Justice Department request to have Hostetter jailed immediately.

Federal prosecutors said Hostetter has no evidence to support his conspiracy theories but stressed that he was charged with crimes for his actions on Jan. 6 — not his political beliefs. One prosecutor, Jason Manning, said Hostetter advocated for violence and mobilized allies to join him in Washington on Jan. 6 because he “didn’t like the election results.”

“For many Americans, the horror of Jan. 6 came out of nowhere. Not for the defendant,” Manning said.

Hostetter was arrested in June 2021 along with five other men. Their indictment linked four of Hostetter’s co-defendants to the Three Percenters wing of the militia movement. Their name refers to the myth that only 3% of Americans fought against the British in the Revolutionary War.


Hostetter said he doesn’t have any connection to the Three Percenters movement and accused prosecutors of falsely portraying him as “a caricature of some radical terrorist.”

One of Hostetter’s co-defendants, Russell Taylor, pleaded guilty in April to a conspiracy charge. Taylor testified for the government at Hostetter’s trial. A trial for the other four is scheduled for October.

Four members of Orange County’s resurgent far right spoke at a pro-Trump rally in Washington the day before the Capitol riots. Their violent rhetoric targets foes both real and imagined.

March 21, 2021

The six men — Hostetter, Taylor, Eric Scott Warner, Felipe Antonio Martinez, Derek Kinnison, and Ronald Mele — were part of a chat group called “The California Patriots-DC Brigade” on Telegram, an encrypted messaging platform, prosecutors said. Taylor posted that he created the group for “fighters” who were expected to bring “weaponry” and “plates” with them to Washington on Jan. 6, according to prosecutors.

All six co-defendants entered restricted areas of the Capitol grounds during the riot, prosecutors said. Hostetter wasn’t accused of entering the Capitol building.

On Instagram, Hostetter posted a photo of himself and Taylor on the building’s Upper West Terrace with rioters in the background. A message under the photo said, “This was the ‘shot heard ‘round the world!’ … the 2021 version of 1776. That war lasted 8 years. We are just getting warmed up.”

Hostetter began teaching yoga after more than 20 years in law enforcement. In the spring of 2020, he founded a nonprofit called the American Phoenix Project. He used the tax-exempt organization to oppose COVID-19 restrictions and to advocate for violence against political opponents after the 2020 presidential election.


In November 2020, Hostetter drove from California to Washington to attend the “Million MAGA March” supporting Trump. On the way, he posted a video on his nonprofit’s YouTube channel in which he expressed his belief that the election had been stolen from Trump and called for killing “tyrants and traitors.”

Ex-Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio and three others are found guilty of seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6 insurrection. A fifth member was convicted of other serious felonies.

May 4, 2023

In December 2020, Hostetter’s nonprofit hosted a “Stop the Steal” rally in Huntington Beach.

“The enemies and traitors of America both foreign and domestic must be held accountable. And they will,” he said at the rally. “There must be long prison terms, while execution is the just punishment for the ringleaders of this group.”

A day before the riot, Taylor gave a speech at a “Virginia Women for Trump” rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court in which he called for violence to overturn the 2020 presidential election results, prosecutors said.

“We are free Americans and in these streets, we will fight and we will bleed before we allow our freedom to be taken from us,” Taylor said, according to the indictment.

More than 1,000 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the Capitol riot. About 100 of them have been convicted after trials decided by judges or juries. More than 600 others have pleaded guilty.