Iced Earth’s Jon Schaffer pleads guilty to two felonies for role in US Capitol insurrection

Iced Earth's Jon Schaffer
(Image credit: PYMCA/Avalon/Gonzales Photo/Peter Troest/Universal Images Group via Getty Images / Juan Aguado/Redferns / ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP via Getty Images)

Jon Schaffer has pleaded guilty to two counts for his role in the US Capitol riot on January 6.

The Iced Earth founder and electric guitar player faced six charges for his involvement in the violent insurrection, but in a plea deal pleaded 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.

Both charges are felonies, with the former punishable by up to 20 years in prison and the latter up to 10 years. Schaffer was originally charged with six offenses, and faced up to 30 years in prison.

Schaffer is now the first rioter involved in the insurrection to plead guilty.

According to CNN (opens in new tab), the plea deal describes Schaffer as a "founding lifetime member" of the right-wing paramilitary group the Oath Keepers, and as part of the deal, Schaffer also "admits his belief that the Electoral College results were fraudulent is not a legal justification" for storming the US Capitol.

In the documents (opens in new tab), Schaffer admitted to entering the Capitol building armed with bear spray, “intending to stop or delay” the certification of the presidential election.

The plea deal outlines Schaffer’s actions on January 6, stating: “At approximately 2:40 p.m., as legislators and their staff were being evacuated to secure locations, Schaffer – still wearing his Oath Keepers hat and tactical vest, and still carrying on his person bear spray-positioned himself at the front of a large mob that broke open the Capitol building doors being guarded by four Capitol Police officers wearing riot gear.

"Schaffer was among the first six individuals to push past the damaged doors and into the building, forcing the officers to retreat. As the mob swelled inside, and officers were being assaulted, Schaffer and other members of the mob continued to advance while aggressively gesturing toward a row of five to six backpedaling officers trying to maintain a security line in front of them. The officers' effort quickly failed as Schaffer and the rest of the mob overwhelmed the officers, who ultimately deployed a chemical irritant to disperse the mob.”

Schaffer’s attorneys and government prosecutors have recommended that he be sentenced to 3.5 to 4.5 years in prison.

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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.