Federal judge allows prosecutors to use “sealed materials” from Schaffer case in Oath Keepers cases

WASHINGTON — A federal judge is allowing prosecutors to share “sealed materials” from a criminal case against a local man and heavy metal guitarist who pleaded guilty to participating in the violent Jan. 6 Capitol attack with attorneys representing leaders of the far-right Oath Keepers militia. Leaders and members of the Oath Keepers are now facing charges of seditious conspiracy and other crimes related to the insurrection, according to federal court documents.

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta granted a motion filed by federal prosecutors, allowing them to provide in discovery “sealed materials” from the criminal case against former Columbus resident Jon Schaffer to the defendants in at least three cases being brought against members of the militia group — including charges of seditious conspiracy filed against Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes. Discovery is the process in which lawyers on both sides share evidence before trial.

The order came just two days after a federal grand jury indicted Rhodes, 56, of Granbury, Texas, and 10 other members of the far-right militia group of seditious conspiracy, the first sedition charges filed in the sprawling investigation of the Capitol attack that has resulted in the arrest of over 725 pro-Trump rioters who violently stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in an attempt to stop the certification of the 2020 presidential election results.

Schaffer, who is best known as a member of the heavy metal band Iced Earth, pleaded guilty in April to breaching the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, armed with bear repellent. He also pleaded guilty to obstruction of an official proceeding and entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon.

As part of his guilty plea, Schaffer acknowledged that he is “a founding, lifetime member of the Oath Keepers” and believes that “the federal government has been ‘co-opted’ by a cabal of elites actively trying to strip American citizens of their rights.” The Oath Keepers is a militia group that recruits current and former military, police and first responders.

Schaffer previously agreed to cooperate with investigators in hopes of getting a lighter sentence.

For the complete story, see Tuesday’s Republic.