Iced Earth’s Jon Schaffer Pleads Guilty to Two Charges in Capitol Riot
According to the Washington Post, the musician is the first to agree to a plea deal in the domestic terrorism investigation that saw over 400 people charged for their roles in the invasion of the Capitol Building back on Jan. 6.
The two charges he pled guilty to were obstruction of an official proceeding of Congress and trespassing on restricted grounds of the Capitol while armed with a deadly or dangerous weapon.
Shortly after the riots took place, Schaffer was one of the first identified in photos that were taken at the Capitol Building and he was later sought out for his role. The Iced Earth guitarist turned himself in to FBI agents in Indianapolis on Jan. 18 and remained in Indiana until recently when his case was sent to court in Washington, D.C.
Schaffer was charged on Friday (April 16) by criminal information, a type of charging document used when a defendant waives the right to an indictment. He was initially charged with six crimes, including engaging in an act of physical violence and targeting police with bear spray, but as part of the plea deal he only plead guilty to two of the counts. Both are felony offenses carrying heavy penalties.
The obstruction of an official proceeding of Congress charge is punishable by up to 20 years in prison; the other, trespassing on restricted grounds of the Capitol while armed with a deadly or dangerous weapon, carries up to a 10 year prison term. Those two counts, according to the Washington Post, have been brought against roughly one-fourth of those charged to date.
Though Schaffer was seen sporting an Oath Keepers Lifetime Member hat during the attack, it was not revealed how much knowledge he had of their activities. Prosecutors only stated that was an early backer of the group.
Prosecutors are seeking to work up the chain of defendants in gathering information to better understand the full scope of planning and organization of the events that occurred at the Capitol riot.
The attack on the Capitol resulted in five deaths, assaults on nearly 140 police officers and the evacuation of Congress.