ICED EARTH guitarist Jon Schaffer, who pleaded guilty seven months ago to his role in the Capitol riot, is continuing to cooperate with authorities while on pre-trial release.
In a joint status update filed on Friday (November 12) in federal court in Washington, D.C., Schaffer's attorney Andrew C. Marcantel of Attorneys For Freedom Law Firm wrote: "The Defendant remains on release under the supervision of the District of Columbia Pre-Trial Services Department. He has remained compliant with pre-trial release conditions. He has remained cooperative with law enforcement since his release.
"Multiple defendants charged in the case in which the Defendant is cooperating have been presented before the Court; several are in the process of exploring case resolutions and a trial date has yet to be set. Accordingly, the parties request to file a joint status update on
or about January 8, 2022."
According to AttorneysForFreedom.com, Marcantel is "a criminal defense attorney with a passion for freedom, individual rights, and government accountability. As an attorney for The Attorneys For Freedom Law Firm, Andrew avidly serves his community by defending its citizens' rights and holding the government to the standards imposed by the state and federal Constitutions."
As part of his April 2021 plea deal, Jon entered 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 pleaded 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.
In his plea agreement, Schaffer acknowledged that on January 6, 2021 he was in Washington to attend the "Stop The Steal" rally at the Ellipse in Washington, D.C. to protest the results of the presidential election, which he believed were fraudulent. Schaffer wore a tactical vest and carried bear spray, a dangerous weapon and chemical irritant used to ward off bears. When the rally finished, Schaffer joined a large crowd that marched from the Ellipse to the Capitol, where a joint session of Congress, presided over by Vice President Michael Pence, was in session to certify the electoral college vote results. Shortly after 2:00 p.m., members of the mob forced entry into the Capitol building, disrupting the joint session and causing members of Congress and the Vice President to be evacuated from the House and Senate chambers.
In his plea agreement, Schaffer admitted that after arriving on Capitol grounds, he walked past barriers intended to restrict access to the public and to a set of locked doors on the Capitol's west side. At approximately 2:40 p.m., Schaffer positioned himself at the front of a crowd that broke open a set of doors being guarded by four U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) officers wearing riot gear. Schaffer admitted to being among the first individuals to push past the damaged doors and into the Capitol building, forcing officers to retreat. Schaffer and others advanced toward five or six backpedaling USCP officers while members of the mob swelled inside of the Capitol and overwhelmed the officers. The officers ultimately deployed a chemical irritant to disperse the mob. Schaffer was among the people who were sprayed in the face, after which he exited while holding his own bear spray in his hands.
After pleading guilty, Schaffer was released on the following conditions:
* Schaffer must submit to court supervision in the Northem Dlstrict of Indiana.
* Schaffer will surrender his passport and any other international travel documents.
* Must stay outside of D.C. except for court hearings and meetings with attorneys.
* Will be permitted to travel within the continental United States with notice to pretrial services.
* Schaffer cannot possess any firearms or explosive devices, including legally owned firearms. Any firearms must be removed from his home.
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.
As part of the agreement, the Justice Department has offered to sponsor Schaffer for the witness protection program.
The 53-year-old musician was the first Capitol riot defendant to reach a plea deal.
The Indiana chapter of the Oath Keepers distanced itself from Schaffer after his arrest, claiming he was not a member of the local group. But the national organization, which sells lifetime memberships for $1,200, has not commented on his alleged affiliation with the group.
At a November 2020 Donald Trump rally in Washington, D.C., Schaffer was videotaped walking behind a Florida couple, Kelly Meggs and Connie Meggs, who were accused of being among 10 members of the Oath Keepers to have played a leading role in the Capitol assault. According to federal authorities, Kelly and Connie Meggs plotted for weeks ahead of the attack, attended training sessions and recruited others. Kelly Meggs is the head of the Oath Keepers' chapter in Florida.
Following the initial reports that Schaffer was involved in the riot, his ICED EARTH bandmates distanced themselves from his actions. Singer Stu Block and bassist Luke Appleton later posted separate statements on social media announcing their resignations. BLIND GUARDIAN frontman Hansi Kürsch also quit DEMONS & WIZARDS, his long-running project with Schaffer. The allegations also apparently affected Schaffer's relationship with his longtime record label Century Media, which had released albums from both ICED EARTH and DEMONS & WIZARDS. As of mid-January, the Century Media artist roster page did not list either band.