WASHINGTON (Reuters) — Two California men have been indicted on charges they conspired to attack the Democratic Party headquarters in Sacramento, the state’s capital city, the U.S. Justice Department said on Friday.
According to the unsealed indictment, Ian Benjamin Rogers, 45, of Napa and Jarrod Copeland, 37, of Vallejo started plotting to attack Democratic targets after the 2020 presidential election. They also tried to get support from an anti-government group to further the cause.
The indictment does not name the militia group they contacted, but prosecutors in a different court filing said Copeland emailed the far-right group Proud Boys, trying to “recruit others to join the plot,” and also was a member of a militia group affiliated with the Three Percenters.
Both the Proud Boys and the Three Percenters have come under government scrutiny, after some members were indicted in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump.
John Ambrosio, a lawyer for Copeland, said in an email: “We entered a plea of not guilty, denying all allegations and counts. We have no further comments at this time.” An attorney for Rogers declined to comment
In numerous messages they exchanged, the two discussed blowing up buildings, the Justice Department said.
In one exchange in January 2021, for instance, Rogers told Copeland: “I want to blow up a democrat building bad.”
“I agree,” Copeland responded. “Plan attack.”
Federal law enforcement agents executed a search warrant on Jan. 15 at Rogers’ home and seized a stockpile of weapons including 45 to 50 firearms, thousands of rounds of ammunition and five pipe bombs.
Prosecutors say Copeland tried to destroy evidence during the investigation and communicated with the leader of a militia group who told him to switch communication platforms and delete the evidence.
Rogers was arrested on the day the search warrant was executed and remains in the custody of the state. Copeland was arrested on Thursday and will appear for a detention hearing on July 20, the Justice Department said.
In the detention memo, prosecutors said Copeland joined the U.S. military in December 2013, but was arrested for desertion in May 2014. He received an “other than honorable discharge” in lieu of being court-martialed.
The memo says Copeland and Rogers were infuriated after Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election, and they “understood they would be viewed as domestic terrorists” if they carried out their vision to overturn the U.S. government.
Their plot allegedly began on Nov. 25, 2020, as Rogers told Copeland in an encrypted messaging application: “Ok bro we need to hit the enemy in the mouth.”
Initially, it says, they discussed attacking the California governor’s mansion, though later the Democratic headquarters in California became the target. Other possible targets they discussed included the corporate offices for Twitter and Facebook.
A criminal complaint that charged Rogers in the case also said they discussed attacking Democratic contributor George Soros.
The indictment does not allege that Rogers or Copeland had any involvement in the Jan. 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol.
The FBI is still searching for an unknown suspect who planted explosive devices near the Democratic and Republican committee headquarters in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 5.
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