A federal court in San Francisco has unsealed an indictment charging two California men in a plot to attack the Democratic Party’s headquarters in the state capital.
Ian Benjamin Rogers, 45, of Napa, and Jarrod Copeland, 37, of Vallejo, are charged with conspiracy to destroy a building affecting interstate commerce, among other crimes, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California.
The men “began planning to attack targets they associated with Democrats after the 2020 Presidential election and sought support from an anti-government militia group,” according to the press release.
The men “planned to use incendiary devices to attack their targets and hoped their attacks would prompt a movement,” the release said. The men intended to first target the John L. Burton Democratic Headquarters in Sacramento, the release said.
The two used multiple messaging applications and discussed the attacks on numerous occasions, according to the release.
In December 2020, Copeland told Rogers he contacted an anti-government militia group to gather support for the movement, according to the release. The next month, Rogers wrote to Copeland, “after the 20th we go to war,” meaning they would initiate acts of violence after the inauguration on January 20, 2021, the release said.
“Firebombing your perceived political opponents is illegal and does not nurture the sort of open and vigorous debate that created and supports our constitutional democracy,” U.S. Attorney Stephanie Hinds said in a press release. “The allegations in the indictment describe despicable conduct.”
Craig Fair, FBI San Francisco Special Agent in Charge, said the agency’s “highest priority has remained preventing terrorist attacks before they occur, including homegrown plots from domestic violent extremists.”
Rusty Hicks, chair of the Democratic Party of California, said in a statement news of the plot was “extremely disturbing.”
“We are relieved to know the plot was unsuccessful, the individuals believed to be responsible are in custody, and our staff and volunteers are safe and sound,” Hicks said. “Yet, it points to a broader issue of violent extremism that is far too common in today’s political discourse.”
Rogers is also charged with one count of possession of unregistered destructive devices and three counts of possession of machine guns. Copeland is charged with one count of destruction of records.
If convicted, the men face a maximum statutory sentence of 20 years in prison, a three-year term of supervised release and a $250,000 fine for the conspiracy charge, according to the release. Rogers also faces a maximum of 10 years in prison for the weapons charge, and Copeland faces a maximum of 20 years in prison for the destruction of evidence charge.
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Rogers faces state charges, too. The Napa County District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting Rogers for his possession of pipe bombs and machine guns and his possession of assault rifles prohibited under California law.
Napa attorney Jess Raphael, who represents Rogers on the state charges, told the Napa Valley Register Friday the alleged plot was “all intoxicated speech.”
“It’s clear that these were two ideologues who were caught up in the passion and drama of last January, and engaged in drunken bluster and rhetoric with no actual intent to act,” Raphael told the outlet.
Rogers was arrested on January 15. Copeland was arrested Thursday morning and made a court appearance Friday morning, according to the release.
In January, federal authorities charged Rogers with unlawful possession of an unregistered destructive device after law enforcement officers found five pipe bombs inside a gun safe at Rogers’ business.
Police also found several guns and “other materials that could be used to manufacture destructive devices, including black powder, pipes, endcaps and manuals,” including “The Anarchist Cookbook,” “U.S. Army Improvised Munitions Handbook” and “Homemade C-4 A Recipe for Survival,” according to the federal complaint.
The pipe bombs were “fully operational and could cause great bodily harm or injury if handled improperly,” an FBI investigator wrote in the complaint.