SAN FRANCISCO – The second of two California men pleaded guilty today to a conspiracy to destroy by fire or explosive a building affecting interstate commerce in a scheme to attack the Democratic Headquarters in Sacramento, announced U.S. Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds, Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, and Special Agent in Charge Sean Ragan of the FBI’s San Francisco Field Office.
Ian Benjamin Rogers, 46, of Napa, and Jarrod Copeland, 38, previously of Vallejo, were indicted on July 21, 2021, in connection with a plan to attack targets they associated with Democrats after the 2020 Presidential election. Today, Rogers pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge in United States District Court. Rogers also pleaded guilty to additional weapons violations, including one count of possession of unregistered destructive devices, and one count of possessing an illegal machine gun. Copeland previously pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge and an additional count of destruction of records.
According to the plea agreements entered at the time of their guilty pleas, Rogers and Copeland admitted that they conspired together between November 2020 and January 2021 to destroy the John L. Burton Democratic Headquarters in Sacramento. Rogers and Copeland admitted that they discussed plans to attack the building with cans of gasoline, including by throwing gas cans through the front windows of the building and igniting the gasoline to burn down the building.
Documents filed by the government describe that in November 2020, Rogers told 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. According to court documents, Rogers and Copeland went on to discuss potentially getting labeled as “domestic terrorists,” with Rogers describing a “hope [their] actions will make others to get involved.” The indictment describes that in late December 2020, Copeland told Rogers he contacted an anti-government militia group to gather support for the movement and in January 2021, Rogers stated to Copeland “I want to blow up a democrat building bad.” Copeland agreed, saying, “I agree” and “Plan attack.” They agreed to start with the Democratic Headquarters in Sacramento and to “see what happens.”
Rogers admitted in his plea agreement to viewing the building on the internet and sending a map of the location to Copeland. The men also admitted to discussing the building’s proximity to a fire department and certain law enforcement in devising their plan, using that information to refine the method of attack to ensure they caused the greatest damage to the building while allowing their escape without detection. Rogers and Copeland also discussed waiting until after the presidential inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021, before carrying out the attack. As described in the indictment, Rogers wrote to Copeland, “after the 20th we go to war.”
According to court documents, on Jan. 15, 2021, law enforcement officers searched Rogers’s home and business and seized a cache of weapons, including 45 to 50 firearms, thousands of rounds of ammunition, and five pipe bombs. Rogers admitted in his plea agreement that he had constructed the pipe bombs and anticipated using them against the property of those whose political views differed from his, including the Democratic Headquarters building in Sacramento. He further admitted that he possessed at least three fully automatic machine guns and considered using one of them in the attack on the building.
In addition, Copeland admitted in his plea agreement that after he learned of Rogers’s Jan. 15 arrest, he notified a militia group to which he belonged and, in response to instruction from them, destroyed evidence to prevent law enforcement from finding the evidence.
Rogers and Copeland each face a maximum statutory 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 charges and Copeland faces a maximum of 20 years in prison for the destruction of evidence charge. Any sentence will be determined only 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 he is being prosecuted for those offenses by the Napa County District Attorney’s Office.
Rogers’s sentencing is scheduled for September 30, 2022. Copeland’s sentencing, also pending before U.S. Senior District Judge Charles R. Breyer in San Francisco, has not yet been scheduled. Rogers has remained in continuous custody since his arrest on Jan. 15, 2021; he was transferred from state to federal custody in January 2022. Copeland has remained in federal custody since his arrest on July 14, 2021.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Frank Riebli and Eric Cheng of the Northern District of California are prosecuting the case, with assistance from Trial Attorney David Cora of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section. The FBI’s San Francisco Field Office is investigating the case, with valuable assistance provided by the FBI Sacramento Field Office and Napa County Sheriff’s Department.