NAPA, Calif. (KRON) — Two Bay Area men have been charged with conspiracy to attack the Democratic Headquarters in Sacramento, according to a release from the Department of Justice.
The federal court in San Francisco on Thursday charged the men with conspiracy to destroy a building affecting interstate commerce and related crimes.
According to court documents, Ian Rogers, 45, of Napa, and Jarrod Copeland, 37, of Vallejo, began planning to attack Democrats after the 2020 presidential election. They also sought support from an anti-government militia group.
Rogers and Copeland planned to use incendiary devices to attack their targets, according to the indictment, and hoped their attacks would prompt a movement.
“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,” said U.S. Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds. “The allegations in the indictment describe despicable conduct. Investigation and prosecution of those who choose violence over discussion is as important as anything else we do to protect our free society.”
“The FBI’s highest priority has remained preventing terrorist attacks before they occur, including homegrown plots from domestic violent extremists,” said Special Agent in Charge Craig Fair. “As described in the indictment, Ian Rogers and Jarrod Copeland planned an attack using incendiary devices. The FBI and the Napa County Sheriff’s Office have worked hand-in-hand to uncover this conspiracy and to prevent any loss of life.”
Copeland and Rogers used multiple messaging applications and discussed the attacks several times, the indictment describes.
In January of 2021, Rogers told Copeland “I want to blow up a democratic building bad”, and Copeland responded “I agree” and “plan attack”.
The two agreed to start with the Democratic Headquarters in Sacramento and to “see what happens”. In one exchange, Rogers wrote to Copeland, “after the 20th we go to war,” referring to after the inauguration on January 20, 2021.
Four days later, on Jan. 15, law enforcement officers searched Roger’s home and business and seized a cache of weapons from Roger’s home, including 45 to 50 firearms, thousands of rounds of ammunition and five pipe bombs.
Copeland allegedly also tried to destroy evidence of their big plan after Roger’s arrest, and a leader of a militia group told him to switch to a new communications platform and delete everything he had.
In November of 2020, Rogers allegedly used encrypted messaging applications to tell Copeland that he would “hit the enemy in the mouth” by using Molotov cocktails and gasoline to attack targets associated with Democrats, including the governor’s mansion and the Democratic Headquarters building in Sacramento.
Rogers and Copeland are both charged with conspiracy to destroy by fire or explosive a building used or in affecting interstate commerce.
Rogers is charged with additional weapons violations, including one count of possession of unregistered destructive devices, and three counts of possession of machine guns.
Copeland is charged with an additional count of destruction of records.
If convicted, the defendants face a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment, a three-year term of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine for the conspiracy charge.
In addition, Rogers 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.
A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Rogers also faces numerous state charges arising out of his possession of the pipe bombs and machine guns, and his possession of assault rifles prohibited under California law, and is being prosecuted for those offenses by the Napa County District Attorney’s Office.
Rogers has remained in state custody since his arrest on January 15, 2021. Copeland was arrested Wednesday morning and made an initial federal court appearance this morning in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
Copeland will appear next on July 20, 2021, for a detention hearing. Rogers will appear next on July 30, 2021, for a status conference.