According to a report from Blabbermouth.net, Iced Earth founder and mastermind Jon Schaffer has agreed to plead guilty for his role in the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. As part of the plea deal, he is expected to enter into a cooperation agreement with the government. Although Schaffer was initially charged with six crimes, including engaging in an act of physical violence and targeting police with bear spray, he has agreed to plead guilty to only two charges: obstruction of an official proceeding of Congress; and trespassing on restricted grounds of the Capitol while armed with a deadly or dangerous weapon. The first charge is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, while the second carries up to a 10-year prison term. It is believed this is the first guilty charge as a result of a plea deal of any person arrested in connection to the Captiol Riots. Schaffer was photographed wearing an “Oath Keepers Lifetime Member” cap during the insurrection. The Oath Keepers describe themselves as an association of former law enforcement and military personnel dedicated to “support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” But the Anti-Defamation League describes it as “a large but loosely organized collection of right-wing anti-government extremists who are part of the militia movement, which believes that the federal government has been coopted by a shadowy conspiracy that is trying to strip American citizens of their rights.” While in jail, Schaffer distanced himself from the Oath Keepers and participated in “debrief interviews” starting in March, and the organization has said publicly they did not recognize Schaffer as a member as well.
There it is. US Capitol riot defendant Jon Schaffer just told a judge that he'll be pleading guilty.
100 days after the insurrection.. it's our first guilty plea.
Terms of deal are about to be read aloud in court
— Scott MacFarlane (@MacFarlaneNews) April 16, 2021
BREAKING: Jon Schaffer, the heavy metal guitarist who stormed the Capitol while armed with bear spray, told a judge he plans to plead guilty today.
So today, 100 days after the insurrection, we should get the first public guilty plea / plea deal.https://t.co/DZ4qCgpRvA
— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) April 16, 2021
During today’s hearing, a federal judge asked Schaffer if he understood he was “giving up” his “right to be presumed innocent,” according to WUSA9. Schaffer said he understood and agreed.
The government said it was agreeing not to oppose Schaffer’s release during the sentencing phase.
Schaffer’s attorney has asked the judge for his client to be released with no travel restrictions, saying that while he lives in Indiana, he has family he cares for in Florida and his legal team is in Arizona. He also noted that Schaffer is an “internationally known musician and recording artist.”
The 53-year-old musician is the first Capitol riot defendant to reach a plea deal.
The plea deal comes two months after a man resembling Schaffer was seen in security footage from the U.S. Capitol riot that the House impeachment managers obtained and submitted as evidence for former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial. The clip in question, which was released by CNN on February 15, showed rioters charging through a breached entrance and engaging and pushing officers. Schaffer could be seen near the front of the mob, wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt, a tactical vest and black leather fingerless tactical gloves, and pointing his finger while yelling at the officers.
Schaffer was photographed wearing an “Oath Keepers Lifetime Member” cap during the insurrection. The Oath Keepers describe themselves as an association of former law enforcement and military personnel dedicated to “support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” But the Anti-Defamation League describes it as “a large but loosely organized collection of right-wing anti-government extremists who are part of the militia movement, which believes that the federal government has been coopted by a shadowy conspiracy that is trying to strip American citizens of their rights.”
While in jail, Schaffer distanced himself from the Oath Keepers and participated in “debrief interviews” starting in March.
As part of the plea deal, Schaffer agreed to cooperate with investigators and potentially testify in related criminal cases, according to CNN. In return for Schaffer’s assistance, the Justice Department might later urge the judge to show leniency during his sentencing
Just hours after the insurrection, ICED EARTH fans recognized Schaffer in a photo released by federal investigators.
In January, German daily newspaper Die Welt uploaded a video interview it conducted with Schaffer last November at a Washington, D.C. demonstration supporting Donald Trump and protesting the 2020 presidential election results. In the chat, the guitarist said that “a group of thugs and criminals hijacked this country a long time ago” and warned that “they’re messing with the wrong people here. Because now we see you, and you’re going down. Mark my words.”
Schaffer also seemingly threw his support behind Trump, saying “he’s not your typical Republican” and claiming that America’s 45th president was “dealing with a criminal mafia that has been in the shadows running the world, frankly, for a very long time. They wanna destroy all of our sovereignty and bring about global government,” he added. “We’re not having it… It will not happen. There will be a lot of blood shed, if it comes down to that — trust me. The American people will not go for that bullshit — once they understand what’s actually happening. So, that’s where we’re at. Nobody wants this, but they’re pushing us to a point where we have no choice.”
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