Iced Earth guitarist Jon Schaffer is continuing to cooperate with investigators regarding his involvement in the Capitol Riot that took place on January 6, 2021. According to a joint status update filed in federal court on 2/18, United States attorney Matthew M. Graves said Schaffer, who is currently on pre-sentencing release after turning himself in to authorities 10 months ago, “continues to cooperate with the government.”
Prosecutors in his case have asked for another status report to be provided by May.
In January, permission to unseal court documents in Schaffer’s case was granted by U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta at the request of the U.S. government as discovery for the three main Oath Keepers cases. Those cases involve Oath Keepers founder/leader Stewart Rhodes and several of his deputies, who are charged with “seditious conspiracy” for allegedly “bringing small arms to the Washington, D.C. area; engaging in combat training to prepare for the attack; and making plans to stage quick-reaction forces to support insurrectionists.” Schaffer had acknowledged in April that he was a “founding lifetime member” of the extremist group.
Back in December, Schaffer was one of 31 members of the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys extremist groups to be sued by District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine for “conspiring to terrorize the District” in order for the city to recoup the millions of dollars lost in protecting the Capitol during the riot. Said Racine at the time, “The defendants, as you know, were not tourists, nor were they acting patriotically. They were vigilantes, members of a mob, insurrectionists who sought to crush our country’s freedoms.”
Schaffer entered into a plea deal with the U.S. Government in April, the first of any Capitol Riot defendant to do so. Out of the six original crimes he was accused of, he pled guilty to two: “obstruction of an official proceeding of Congress” and “trespassing on restricted grounds of the Capitol while armed with a deadly or dangerous weapon.” Schaffer faces 20 years in prison for the former offense and 10 years for the latter.
For cooperating with authorities, which includes the potential for testifying in related cases, the Justice Department could urge the judge in his case to show leniency during sentencing. They have also agreed to sponsor him for the witness protection program.
While the Indiana chapter of the Oath Keepers distanced themselves from Schaffer, the national group has not commented. Back in November 2020, Schaffer was videotaped at a rally in Washington D.C. walking behind Kelly and Connie Meggs, a couple thought to be a part of the 10 Oath Keepers members who were integral in plotting and recruiting for the assault at the Capitol.
Schaffer’s involvement in the Capitol Riot affected the guitarist’s music career. His Iced Earth bandmates distanced themselves from him, with singer Stu Block and bassist Luke Appleton both individually resigning from the band. Demons & Wizards collaborator Hansi Kürsch also broke off his professional relationship with Schaffer. Century Media, Schaffer’s long-time label, dropped both Iced Earth and Demons & Wizards from their artist roster.