A member of the Oath Keepers has pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with investigators in the investigation into the Jan. 6 riot.
On Friday, a member of the Oath Keepers militia pleaded guilty to charges related to the Capitol riot and agreed to cooperate with the government — possibly against other members of the far-right party.
The Oath Keeper's guilty plea, entered publicly by Jon Ryan Schaffer, 53, of Indiana, was the first by any of the more than 400 people charged in connection with the Jan. 6 riot. The plea became public last week when confidential papers in Mr. Schaffer's case were accidentally unsealed on a federal court website.
Mr. Schaffer's cooperation with the government could prove critical in assisting prosecutors in pursuing even wider conspiracy charges against 12 other Oath Keepers members charged with some of the most serious offenses in the sprawling investigation.
The Oath Keeper conspiracy case is one of two major cases in which prosecutors have charged rioters with plotting violence against the Capitol as early as November. Authorities have stated that they are investigating Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the Oath Keepers, who was at the Capitol on Jan. 6 but did not appear to join.
The other significant conspiracy case concerns four leaders of the far-right nationalist party the Proud Boys, who led a crowd of approximately 100 members and supporters past Capitol police barricades.
Mr. Schaffer, who is also the guitarist and songwriter for the heavy metal band Iced Earth, was originally charged on Jan. 16 in what amounted to a first round of criminal charges, with possessing bear spray and participating in "physical altercations" with Capitol police officers. He is wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt underneath a military jacket and a baseball cap that reads "Oath Keepers Lifetime Member" in photos from the riot.
Mr. Schaffer pleaded guilty to two charges at a hearing in Federal District Court in Washington: obstruction of an official process and breaching a restricted building with a dangerous weapon. Both are felonies that carry a maximum sentence of 30 years in jail.
Prosecutors have agreed to sponsor Mr. Schaffer for the Witness Protection Program as part of his plea agreement with the government.