Wednesday, former Olympic swimming gold medalist Klete Keller pleaded guilty to a felony charge related to the Capitol riot on January 6. Keller pleaded guilty to the second of the seven counts against him. The charge was obstruction of an official proceeding, which is a felony. Keller is expected to face prison time as a result of his guilty plea.
Klete Keller admitted to blocking police and refusing to leave the Capitol during the riot. Keller also admitted that he yelled profanities directed at Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer while in the building. Though obstructing an official carries a maximum of 20 years in prison, Keller will likely receive a lighter sentence. According to Eric Flack of WUSA 9 in Washington, Keller has a “cooperation agreement” to alleviate the other charges against him.
“Keller’s attorney tells the judge that this is a “cooperation agreement,” meaning the former Olympian will cooperate with government investigators between now and sentencing in return for the DOJ dropping the six other charges against him and potentially recommending a lighter sentence.”Eric Flack
During the Capitol riot, Keller wore his Olympic jacket. This jacket and his 6’6″ frame helped teammates and others identify Keller in videos of the riot. There is no parole in the federal penal system. As a result, Keller must serve his entire sentence. The judge reportedly informed Keller he will likely receive 21 to 27 months in prison. However, the court will also perform an individual evaluation to come up with a sentence. Additionally, Keller will lose his right to vote due to his classification as a felon.
Klete Keller showing remorse for Capitol riot
While Keller is likely to serve time in prison, he showed remorse throughout the hearing. Keller reportedly threw away the Olympic jacket he wore to storm the Capitol and destroyed his phone from the event as well. Sentencing remains to be seen and will likely rely upon Keller’s cooperation with the court. According to Flack, there will be a status update on December 16.
Keller won medals for Team USA during the Summer Olympics in 2000, 2004, and 2008. Though he once medaled the United States, he will now have to suffer the consequences of his actions against the nation he once represented.