Iced Earth guitarist Jon Schaffer pleaded guilty Friday (April 16th) to two charges for his role in the insurrection that took place at the US Capitol on January 6th. A prison sentence of 3.5 to 4.5 years is expected for the veteran metal musician, who is the first person to enter a guilty plea out of the hundreds so far charged in the riot.
Schaffer, who initially faced six charges for his actions during the riot, pleaded guilty to obstruction of an official proceeding and entering a building with a dangerous weapon. He admitted to carrying bear spray into the Capitol, as he and others forced their way into the building.
As CNN reports, the aforementioned expected sentence is based on a joint recommendation between prosecutors and Schaffer’s attorneys. Ultimately, it’s up to federal Judge Amit Mehta as to the actual length of the guitarist’s prison sentence, which could be as much as 20 years.
A plea deal reportedly had been in the works for a few weeks, with Schaffer questioned about his ties to the militia organization the Oath Keepers. The musician was filmed and photographed wearing an Oath Keepers Lifetime Member baseball hat during the insurrection. It is believed that Schaffer may be offering information on the Oath Keepers as part of his plea deal.
According to Indiana TV station WUSA9, Schaffer appeared in court on Friday to enter his guilty pleas, with Judge Mehta asking him, “Are you pleading guilty, Mr. Schaffer, because you are in fact guilty, sir?” To which Schaffer replied, “Yes, sir.”
Schaffer’s attorney stated, “He is the first individual to come forward in this historic prosecution and accept responsibility for his role in the Capitol riot.”
Sentencing in the case was delayed for 60 days, and Schaffer was allowed to walk out of the courthouse until then. However, under the Judge’s orders, the guitarist must submit to court supervision in the Northern District of Indiana, surrender his passport, and stay outside of D.C. except for court hearings and attorney meetings. He is also not allowed to possess any firearms or explosive devices.
Needless to say, Schaffer’s role in the Capitol riot shook up his longtime metal band. Singer Stu Block and bassist Luke Appleton both publicly quit Iced Earth, while lead guitarist Jake Dreyer strongly hinted that he had exited the group, as well.