Former California police chief gets 11-year sentence for role in Jan. 6 Capitol riot

Alan Hostetter, a former La Habra police chief-turned yoga instructor and conservative Orange County activist who called for the execution of his political enemies after the 2020 elections, was sentenced Thursday to 11 years and three months in federal prison for joining a mob of rioters during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

The former law enforcement officer planned for weeks in the leadup to Jan. 6, transported weapons across the country and while armed with a hatchet joined the group of rioters that overran the U.S. Capitol.

While Hostetter himself was not accused of taking part in direct violence on Jan. 6, prosecutors in the leadup to his sentencing compared his actions to “terrorism,” saying he was “eager to stoke the fires of revolution” and called for the killing of those he deemed “tyrants and traitors.”

Hostetter — who represented himself at trial and sentencing — has continually downplayed the events of Jan. 6, arguing they were the result of a “federal setup” or a “three-hour hissy fit.”

Due to his former law enforcement past and his public role speaking out about pandemic-era state restrictions, Hostetter — until recently a San Clemente resident — is the most high-profile among the more than two dozen people with Southern California ties charged in connection with Jan. 6. Hostetter, now 59, has since moved to Poolville, Texas.

During his more than two-decade-long law enforcement career, Hostetter rose to the level of deputy chief within the Fontana Police Department and then briefly led the La Habra Police Department before taking a disability retirement. He had a second career as a yoga instructor, working with studios and private clients primarily in South Orange County, where he lived at the time as a San Clemente resident.

But it was his outspoken opposition to health restrictions during the pandemic that brought Hostetter a public spotlight and led to him headlining a series of high-profile anti-mask rallies. Along with Russell Taylor — a Ladera Ranch entrepreneur — Hostetter founded the American Phoenix Project, initially to push back against state coronavirus policies and later to argue then-President Trump’s since disproven claims of voter fraud during the 2020 election.

Hostetter’s public speeches were often incendiary. Before a cheering crowd at a Huntington Beach rally in December 2020 he called for “long prison terms” and “executions” for “ringleaders” of an anti-Trump “coup,” describing them as “enemies and traitors of America.” At a San Clemente rally in May 2020, Hostetter was taken into custody after allegedly trying to take down fencing blocking off the beach and the pier that had been set up to help curb the spread of the Coronavirus.

Taylor — Hostetter’s one-time ally and former co-defendant — has since admitted to teaming up with Hostetter to organize a group of “fighters” to travel to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Hostetter, who was driving rather than flying, brought weapons and tactical gear, including hatchets, a knife, pepper spray, stun batons, a collapsible baton, an armored plate carrier, a gas mask and a bulletproof helmet.

On the morning of Jan. 6, Taylor and Hostetter attended a Trump rally before joining the crowd that marched to the Capitol, where the group encountered another group of rioters who were already trying to push their way past police officers. Hostetter was wearing a backpack containing a hatchet, which had been a gift from Taylor.

Hostetter — standing several feet behind the vanguard of the rioters and waving an American flag — used a bullhorn to cheer on the members of the crowd who were fighting to break through the police line. He ended up staying in a restricted area for about two hours, though he did not enter the actual Capitol building. He later posted a photo of himself and Taylor taken in a restricted area with the caption “This was the ‘shot heard round the word!… and the 2021 version of 1776. That war lasted 8 years. We are just getting started.”

After his arrest, Hostetter quickly turned on Taylor and other former allies in Orange County conservative circles. He accused them — without providing any direct evidence — of being federal informants.

Though court records show no filings from Hostetter leading up to his sentencing, previous written motions by the former chief were filled with conspiracy theories seemingly far afield from Jan. 6, including references to the JFK assassination, the Sept. 11 attacks and alleged occult symbols in the “Wizard of Oz.”

In finding Hostetter guilty of four criminal counts, Judge Royce Lamberth earlier this year cited his former law enforcement credentials.

“Even if Mr. Hostetter sincerely believed — which it appears he did — that the election was fraudulent, that President Trump was the rightful winner, and that public officials committed treason, as a former police chief he still must have known it was unlawful to vindicate that perceived injustice by engaging in mob violence to obstruct Congress,” the judge said earlier this year.