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Klete Keller, Olympic swimming star, pleads guilty in Capitol riot case

Keller was widely recognized in photos and videos taken inside the Capitol Rotunda on Jan. 6, partly because of his 6-foot-6-inch height.

WASHINGTON — Former Olympic swimming star Klete Keller pleaded guilty Wednesday to a charge stemming from the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

During a brief appearance in federal court in Washington, he pleaded guilty to a single charge of obstructing an official proceeding, a felony with an estimated sentencing range under federal guidelines of 21 to 27 months.

In return, the government dropped one other felony charge and five misdemeanor counts.

His attorney, Edward MacMahon, told the judge that Keller "is trying to make amends for his terrible mistake," is embarrassed, and "wants to start his life over."

Prosecutors asked the judge to defer sentencing. They said Keller has agreed to cooperate in their investigation of the Capitol riot and could be called upon to testify in related court proceedings.

Keller's arrest in January at his home in Colorado attracted nationwide attention. He competed in three Olympic Games and won five medals, two of them gold. He was a relay teammate of Michael Phelps.

Keller was widely recognized in photos and videos taken inside the Capitol Rotunda on Jan. 6, partly because of his 6-foot-6-inch height. An FBI charging document said that he "appears to be one of the tallest individuals in the video depicting individuals in the Rotunda."

He was also wearing a U.S. Olympics team jacket.

USA Swimming condemned Keller's participation in the Capitol breach. "Mr. Keller's actions in no way represent the values or mission of USA Swimming. And while once a swimmer at the highest levels of our sport — representing the country and democracy he so willfully attacked — Mr. Keller has not been a member of this organization since 2008," the organization said after he was arrested.

Keller had a rough time after quitting the sport. His marriage ended in divorce. He spent months living out of his car, according to an interview he gave the USA Swimming website.

"I was paying child support for my kids and couldn't afford a place, so I lived in my car for almost a year."

In recent months, he described his support for former President Donald Trump on his social media. Friends said he attended the Million MAGA March in Washington in November.