Iced Earth's Jon Schaffer is being sued by Washington DC’s Attorney General over US Capitol riot

Ice Earth Jon S
(Image credit: ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP via Getty Images)

Iced Earth guitarist Jon Schaffer could be facing financial ruin after being named in legal documents filed in a lawsuit by District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine which aims to recover millions of dollars spent by the Washington DC authorities to defend the US Capitol during the January 6 riots in the city.

Alongside members of far right groups the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, Schaffer is accused of “conspiring to terrorize the District" in "a coordinated act of domestic terrorism" in the lawsuit, which cites the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, a federal law created after the Civil War to protect civil rights and "protect against vigilantes and insurrectionists."

In the legal papers, Jon Ryan Schaffer is described as as "a founding, lifetime member of the Oath Keepers."

The section relating to the guitarist states, "Schaffer was criminally charged and indicted for his role in perpetrating the January 6th Attack. In connection with a promise to cooperate with investigators and potentially testify in criminal cases related to the conspiracy to commit the January 6th Attack, Schaffer pleaded guilty to the entire Statement of Offense in the criminal action brought against him, which included two felony offenses: (1) trespass of the Capitol while armed with a deadly or dangerous weapon and (2) obstruction of an official proceeding of Congress. The Criminal Complaint filed against Schaffer—as well as Schaffer's Plea Agreement and the accompanying Statement of Offense describing his conduct—are publicly available documents that are hereby incorporated into the Complaint by reference."

Indiana native Schaffer was the first participant in the DC riots to reach a plea deal with the US government: the US Justice Department has offered to sponsor the guitarist for the witness protection program.

Karl Racine is seeking “substantial” damages from those named in the court papers. 

"If it so happens that it bankrupts or puts these individuals and entities in financial peril," he states, "so be it."

"The defendants, as you know, were not tourists, nor were they acting patriotically," he notes. "They were vigilantes, members of a mob, insurrectionists who sought to crush our country's freedoms."

The legal documents filed by Racine can be read online. 

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.