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Oath Keepers founding member pleads guilty to Jan. 6 Capitol breach, in federal plea deal

Oath Keeper John Ryan Schaeffer is first person to plead guilty for his actions during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Updated: April 17, 2021 - 3:43am

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

A founding member the Oath Keepers group pleaded guilty Friday for his part in the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol, as part of a plea deal with federal prosecutors.

The member of the far-right group, Jon Ryan Schaffer, has agreed to work with prosecutors in connection with cases for those also arrested in the breach, according to The Washington Post.

"You’re pleading guilty, Mr. Schaffer, because you're in fact actually guilty?" U.S. District Judge Amit P. Meht asked.

Schaffer, the first person to publicly plead guilty in connection to the breach, responded, "Yes." 

The 53-year-old Schaffer, was initially charged with six crimes including physical violence and targeting law enforcement with bear spray.

He pleaded guilty to two charges: obstruction of an official proceeding of Congress and trespassing on restricted grounds of the Capitol while armed with a deadly or dangerous weapon.

Those who forced their way into the Capitol Building were trying to disrupt the Congress' certification of state Electoral College votes that made Democrat Joe Biden president.

The crimes are punishable by a 20-year prison sentence and a 10-year prison sentence, respectively.

Schaeffer, of Indiana, is free to travel while he helps the government in their investigation and awaits sentencing. Schaeffer's attorney, Marc Victor, said the sentences could be reduced depending upon the helpfulness of his client.

"He is the first person to plead guilty in this historic investigation to take responsibility for his role in the Capitol riot. He contacted authorities as soon as he discovered he was a person of interest, and he self surrendered," Victor said.

So far, over 400 people have been arrested in connection with the Jan. 6 riots.