Iced Earth guitarist Jon Schaffer is a free man at the moment, as part of the agreement with his guilty plea. Schaffer pled guilty to two charges (he was originally charged with six). The charges include obstruction of an official proceeding of Congress, and trespassing on restricted grounds of the Capitol while armed with a deadly or dangerous weapon.
CNN reported that prosecutors and Schaffer's defense agreed to recommend between 3.5 and 4.5 years of sentencing in prison, based on his cooperation. The decision is ultimately up to federal Judge Amit Mehta. New York Times reports that Schaffer requested and was granted Witness Protection Program sponsorship.
Schaffer was immediately released and video cameras from NewsNation Now were there the moment Schaffer left the jail and was reunited with (presumably) his girlfriend. Schaffer immediately takes off his mask and embraces her and then seems a bit taken aback that there are cameras there to greet him. You can see the video below.
Schaffer's bail is under the following conditions:
- He must submit to court supervision in Indiana.
- He must surrender his passport and international traveling documents
- He must stay out of Washington D.C., outside of court hearings and attorney meetings
- He will be permitted to travel within the US with notice to pretrial services
- He cannot possess any firearms or explosive devices, even legally. Firearms must be removed from his home.
A report from the Washington Post notes that in Schaffer's plea agreement he admitted to being a "founding" lifetime member of the Oath Keepers, but they note that Schaffer is "the first defendant to potentially flip in the sprawling domestic terrorism investigation that has led to charges against more than 400 people."
According to the plea agreement "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 exited while holding his own bear spray in his hands."
Schaffer is the first person of 400 arrests from the Capitol riots to plea guilty. as the Justice Department is working on the other cases. It is likely that Schaffer's cooperation will lead to him testifying in front of the grand jury, as suggested by a leaked prosecution report.