ICED EARTH guitarist Jon Schaffer, who notoriously participated in the riots at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, entered into a plea bargain with federal prosecutors on April 16th that will see him cooperate with authorities by sharing information with them about other conspirators in exchange for a lessened sentence.
That same day, as part of his plea deal, Schaffer was released from incarceration after being held in custody since turning himself in to authorities on January 17. The total length of Schaffer’s imprisonment was 89 days, and his release comes exactly 100 days after the attack on the Capitol. The guitarist will need to return to court for sentencing at a later date and he will be closely monitored in the meantime.
You can watch video of Schaffer leaving the Washington D.C. courthouse after agreeing to the plea deal on April 16 just below this article. Alex Rhoades of NewsNation Now (the network formerly known as WGN) was on hand to witness Schaffer walking free and to capture the moment on camera.
Schaffer entered a guilty plea to two of the six charges brought against him after the riot: “Obstruction of an Official Proceeding” and “Entering and Remaining in a Restricted Building or Grounds with a Deadly or Dangerous Weapon.” The former charge carries a prison sentence of up to twenty years; the latter charge, a mere ten, although prosecutors and Schaffer’s attorneys agreed to recommend that his sentence be between three and a half and four and a half years in prison depending on the results of his cooperation. The sentencing decision will be handed down by federal Judge Amit Mehta, who is overseeing the case.
It is expected that Schaffer will provide information about the Oath Keepers, an organized, far-right militia group who planned the invasion of the building in advance. Schaffer can be seen wearing an Oath Keepers hat in photos and video from the insurrection, and in his plea deal is described as a “founding lifetime member” of the group, However, the Indiana chapter of the Oath Keepers released a statement back in January saying that Schaffer is not a member of their organization.
Schaffer has been quite open about his far-right political views for years, openly discussing his mistrust of government (with a special emphasis on the federal reserve), asserting his belief that Trump’s loss in the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election was tipped by illegal immigrants, speaking out in favor of arming teachers to prevent school shootings, and claiming that COVID-19 is a hoax.