Iced Earth's Jon Schaffer Pleads Guilty for His Role in the Capitol Riot
He's taken a plea deal to work against other rioters and reportedly been granted a request to enter the Witness Protection Program
Published Apr 16, 2021Iced Earth guitarist Jon Schaffer has pleaded guilty for his very public role in the U.S. Capitol riots. However, he has agreed to plead guilty as part of a plea deal and will now cooperate with U.S. authorities to prosecute others involved in the domestic terrorism incident.
The 53-year-old founding member of the Oath Keepers was arrested for participating in the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol and was initially facing six charges, including engaging in an act of physical violence in a Capitol building, knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, disrupting the orderly conduct of government business, violent entry and disorderly conduct in a Capitol building, engaging in an act of physical violence in a Capitol building, and demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.
As part of his plea deal, Schaffer has only pleaded guilty to two of those charges: obstruction of an official proceeding of Congress and trespassing on restricted grounds of the Capitol while armed with a deadly or dangerous weapon. Both are still very serious felony offences that carrying heavy penalties.
Obstruction of an official proceeding of Congress is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, while trespassing on restricted grounds of the Capitol while armed with a deadly or dangerous weapon carries up to a 10 years in prison.
As the Washington Post reports, the plea "marks a new stage in the historic investigation," with prosecutors hoping that Schaffer's legal move leads other riot participants to testify against each other in hopes of avoiding lengthy prison sentences. Specifically, they are hoping that those like Schaffer who have flipped to now aid the government's case will shed much more light into the inner workings of such far-right groups as the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys.
It should be noted that while the two charges that Schaffer now faces could result in 30 years in prison, CNN reports that prosecutors and Schaffer's defence agreed to recommend between three and a half and four and a half years in prison, based on his cooperation.
According to yet another report from the New York Times, Schaffer requested to be part of the Witness Protection Program as part of his plea deal — a request that was apparently granted. As previously reported, Schaffer has been in jail since he turned himself in to FBI on January 18 after being photographed inside the Capitol wearing a hat that said "Oath Keepers Lifetime Member."
More than 400 participants in the riot are now facing charges.
The original version of this story was last edited at 3:30 p.m. ET.