According to CNN, at least one defendant in the Capitol insurrection has flipped against the Proud Boys and agreed to provide information that may enable the Justice Department to pursue a more severe charge against the group’s leaders.
The news outlet cited an attorney involved in the case.
The development is the first indication that people charged in the insurrection are cooperating against the pro-Trump extremist group. Federal prosecutors have made clear they are focused on building conspiracy cases against leadership of the Proud Boys and paramilitary groups like the Oath Keepers.
Court records have made murmurs for weeks about cooperators and plea deals in the works, and prosecutors revealed that a rioter wearing an Oath Keepers hat was in talks to cooperate earlier this week.
Yet the cases are still in early stages. None of the defendants have pleaded guilty yet, and prosecutors have struggled at times to convince judges to perceive high-profile defendants as conspirators who organized the violence toward Congress on January 6 in advance.
CNN reported that prosecutors have previously indicated there was a “cooperating witness”, who is not charged with a crime nor affiliated with the group, who “heard Proud Boys members talking about wanting to kill members of Congress and then-Vice President Mike Pence and return to Washington for Inauguration Day, and that members of the group had access to guns.”
At least one defendant, Jon Schaffer, a guitarist with the heavy metal band Iced Earth, is considering cooperating, according to a filing on Monday. Schaffer allegedly charged at police officers in the Capitol insurrection and is in jail while he awaits trial. In court, he has distanced himself from the Oath Keepers.
Still, Schaffer did “debrief interviews” starting in March, according to the filing, which prosecutors intended to share in court confidentially and mistakenly made public.
“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,” the filing said.
Other agreements and interviews in addition to Schaffer’s are in the works, according to the attorney who spoke to CNN this week.
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