Olympic gold medalist Klete Keller pleaded guilty to obstruction of an official proceeding on Wednesday as part of a plea deal with federal prosecutors in connection with the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, NBC News reported.
The felony charge carries a maximum sentencing of 20 years, though Keller will likely receive far less time.
The 6-foot-6 Keller, a three-time Olympian and five-time medalist in swimming, was identified in pictures and video inside the Capitol wearing his United States Olympic Team jacket. Keller originally pleaded not guilty to the seven charges he faced, including:
- Civil disorder
- Obstruction of an official proceeding, and aiding and abetting
- Entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds
- Disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds
- Impeding passage through the Capitol Grounds or buildings
- Parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building
Keller and his attorney, Edward McMahon, did not take questions or provide comment when arriving at court or when leaving, per WSUA9’s Eric Flack. MacMahon reportedly told the judge that Keller “is trying to make amends for his terrible mistake” and “wants to start his life over.”
👀OLYMPIAN ARRIVES AT COURT👀
Former gold medal swimmer Klete Keller was not answering my questions as he arrived at US District Court Wednesday to plead guilty in the #CaptiolRiots. Keller is facing 7 criminal counts including obstruction, a felony. @wusa9 @9NEWS @USASwimming pic.twitter.com/AtfspzoBEB
— Eric Flack (@EricFlackTV) September 29, 2021
The 39-year-old Keller admitted to spending “a little less than one hour” inside the Capitol as part of an attempt to stop or delay certification of the Electoral College vote for the 2020 Presidential election. He also said he took phone photos and videos inside the Capitol, then destroyed the phone, its memory card, and threw away the Team USA jacket within 48 hours.
According to his plea, Keller yelled “F*** Nancy Pelosi!” and “F*** Chuck Schumer!” when he was in the rotunda.
Keller’s sentencing range is 21-27 months, the judge reportedly said, but the court still has to form an independent evaluation, so that could change. As part of the deal, Keller will cooperate with investigators until his sentencing in return for dropping his six other charges, and potentially a lighter sentence.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, more than 600 individuals have been arrested in connection with the riot.