Iced Earth guitarist Jon Schaffer is reportedly in “advanced plea negotiations” with authorities over his alleged role in the January 6 riot at the US Capitol.
According to a report by Buzzfeed News, a private filing that was accidentally made public mentioned the negotiations with Schaffer, who has apparently been providing information to the government.
The filing has since been removed from the public docket, as, according to a now-removed brief from Assistant US Attorney Ahmed Baset, knowing about his cooperation “may reveal the existence, scope, and direction of the ongoing and confidential investigation.”
No specific information regarding what Schaffer may have disclosed was in the filing. Said Baset, “If alerted to this information, investigation targets against whom the defendant may be providing information about could be immediately prompted to flee from prosecution, destroy or conceal incriminating evidence, alter their operational tactics to avoid future detection, attempt to influence or intimidate potential witnesses, and otherwise take steps to undermine the investigation and avoid future prosecution.”
Buzzfeed News reports that the government has made public its efforts to extend plea deals to some of the more than 350 charged in the Capitol Riots, though the details of those deals are unknown. In this filing, it states that Schaffer is “the first and most advanced” of the plea deals.
According to Baset, Schaffer has undergone “a series of debrief interviews” since March that will allow him to await his trial outside of jail in exchange for his cooperation. “Based on these debrief interviews, the parties are currently engaged in good-faith plea negotiations, including discussions about the possibility of entering into a cooperation plea agreement aimed at resolving the matter short of indictment.”
With the size and scope of these debrief interviews, the government has suspended the deadlines in Schaffer’s case for at least another two weeks. This could very well be the reason that Schaffer and his team recently withdrew his motion to dismiss his case on grounds that the government violated the Speedy Trial Act in waiting to indict him. If talks fail, Buzzfeed News reports that “the government is in a position to rapidly obtain an indictment.”
Schaffer turned himself in to authorities in his home state of Indiana on January 17. He had been photographed at the Capitol building on January 6 wearing an Oath Keepers hat and wielding “bear spray,” which he used against police. Schaffer faces six charges, including:
1) Knowingly Entering or Remaining in any Restricted Building or Grounds Without Lawful Authority
2) Disrupting the Orderly Conduct of Government Business
3) Knowingly Engages in an Act of Physical Violence Against any Person or Property in any Restricted Building or Grounds
4) Violent Entry and Disorderly Conduct in a Capitol Building
5) Engage in an Act of Physical Violence in a Capitol Building
6) Parade, Demonstrate, or Picket in a Capitol Building
Schaffer had been held in Marion County Jail until mid-March, when he was transferred to an unknown location. Since his arrest, Century Media dropped both Iced Earth and Demons & Wizards from their roster. Schaffer’s bandmates from both groups have come out and condemned the Capitol Riots.