According to Buzzfeed News, prosecutors are close to making a cooperation deal with Iced Earth guitarist Jon Schaffer, who is currently in custody due to his involvement in the treasonous pro-Trump insurrection at the US. Capitol. The news of the “advanced plea negotiations” reportedly comes from a filing that was mistakenly made public.
Buzzfeed News shared the following information:
“The public filing had apparently been made in error — prosecutors had intended to file it under seal because the defendant, Jon Schaffer, was already providing information to the government. Revealing his cooperation “may reveal the existence, scope, and direction of the ongoing and confidential investigation,” Assistant US Attorney Ahmed Baset wrote in the brief, which was quickly removed from the public docket but has been viewed by BuzzFeed News. It was not immediately clear how the document ended up on the public docket.”
The following was also added:
“The prosecutor, Baset, wrote that Schaffer had participated in a “series of debrief interviews” since early March. In exchange for Schaffer’s cooperation, the government was considering giving up its effort to keep Schaffer in jail while his case is pending and instead allow him to go free until he is sentenced.
“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,” Baset wrote.”
Baset also reportedly wrote the following in a since-deleted section of the filing:
“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. Accordingly, these facts present an extraordinary situation and a compelling governmental interest which justify sealing of this filing pertaining to this investigation that is being submitted at this time.”
According to Politico, Schaffer is now expected to appear in court on April 21 for a hearing to review a motion regarding his pre-trial detention order. That hearing was previously scheduled for tomorrow (April 6). This news comes after Schaffer’s legal team recently agreed to delay rights afforded by The Speedy Trial Act, saying that they need more time to prepare a defense due to COVID-19 restrictions.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui previously ordered Schaffer to remain in jail without bond until he goes to trial. The guitarist, who is currently being held at the Washington D.C. Jail, was not considered a flight risk, but Faruqui chose to keep him in custody without bail, saying that he could be a danger to the community. His decision was influenced in part by comments Schaffer made during a November 2020 Trump Rally, in which he said “if somebody wants to bring violence, I think there’s a lot of us here that are ready for it.”
After Schaffer was ordered to stay in custody, his attorney Marc Victor filed a “motion to amend detention order,” claiming that “the government failed to establish Mr. Schaffer’s dangerous to the community by clear and convincing evidence.” However, a U.S. magistrate judge filed an “order of detention pending trial” concluding that Schaffer “must be detained pending trial because the Government has proven by clear and convincing evidence that no condition or combination of conditions of release will reasonably assure the safety of any other person and the community.”
Before he was transported to Washington, D.C. by a U.S. marshal, Schaffer was being held at Marion County Jail in Indiana after being arrested on January 17. He made his first court appearance on January 18 and government lawyers asked a judge to deny him bail when he goes in front of the U.S. magistrate. If you missed it, here’s the initial statement that was issued by the FBI’s Indianapolis Field Office:
“Jon Schaffer, Columbus, IN, has been arrested in connection to Jan 6 incident at the U.S. Capitol. Schaffer faces 6 charges including engaging in an act of physical violence in a Capitol building. Schaffer was allegedly among rioters who sprayed Capitol police with ‘bear spray.’”
The U.S. Department Of Justice also released a “Statement Of Facts,” which includes surveillance camera photos of Schaffer holding bear spray. It also mentioned that he was wearing a “Lifetime Member” hat from the anti-government militia group Oath Keepers. However, the Indiana Oath Keepers have since issued a statement saying he wasn’t a member of their group.
Schaffer is currently facing the following charges:
1) Knowingly Entering or Remaining in any Restricted Building or Grounds Without Lawful Authority
2) Disrupting the Orderly Conduct of Government Business
3) Knowingly Engaging 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) Engaging in an Act of Physical Violence in a Capitol Building
6) Parading, Demonstrating, or Picketing in a Capitol Building