A U.S. District Court judge in San Francisco handed down multi-year prison terms Thursday for two men who admitted plotting to firebomb the Democratic headquarters in Sacramento in 2021.
Ian Benjamin Rogers, 46, of Napa, was sentenced to 108 months in prison and Jarrod Copeland, 39, of Vallejo, was sentenced to 54 months in prison for their respective roles in crimes including a conspiracy to destroy the Democratic Headquarters in Sacramento, announced United States Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds and FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert K. Tripp. The sentences were handed down by the Judge Charles R. Breyer in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.
Rogers and Copeland pleaded guilty to their crimes in May 2022 and November 2021, respectively. Rogers was sentenced for conspiracy as well as multiple federal weapons violations while Copeland was sentenced for his role in the conspiracy and for obstruction of justice.
“The defendants in this case admitted that they intended to destroy the headquarters of a political organization by firebombing it,” said Hinds in a press release. “Their decision to ‘go to war’ was based on their thought that they would rather destroy their political opponents’ building than acknowledge they lost an election and rely on the political process to make change.”
“Ian Rogers and Jarrod Copeland will now have plenty of time to reflect on the fact that resorting to violence is not an acceptable means of making political change in our democracy,” said the federal prosecutor. “Prosecution and imprisonment await those who attempt to supplant the political process with fear and violence.”
“Rogers and Copeland devised a plan of attack to put innocent lives in danger. Today's sentences make clear that those actions have serious consequences,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert K. Tripp. “The FBI’s partnership with the Napa County Sheriff’s Office was critical in thwarting their plot. We will not stop our pursuit of extremists who advocate for violence over constitutionally protected discourse and imperil our communities."
Both defendants admitted in their plea agreements that after the 2020 Presidential election they conspired together to destroy the John L. Burton Democratic Headquarters in Sacramento, according to Hinds. They admitted that between November 2020 and January 2021 they discussed attacking the Democratic Headquarters 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.
The pair also acknowledged that Rogers viewed the Democratic Headquarters building on the internet and sent a map of the location to Copeland, discussing the building’s proximity to a fire department and certain law enforcement in devising their plan, all 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 admitted discussing how they would wait until after the presidential inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021, before carrying out the attack.
Papers filed by the government describe how law enforcement officers seized a cache of weapons, including 45 to 50 firearms, thousands of rounds of ammunition, and five pipe bombs from Rogers’s home and business on Jan. 15, 2021. Just days earlier, Rogers wrote to Copeland, “after the 20th we go to war.” 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.
At a hearing for the defendants’ sentencings, Breyer described the defendants’ conduct as “an act of terrorism.”
“But for the intervention of law enforcement, it's the court's view that there was no impediment to the act of terrorism,” said the judge at sentencing. “Whether it was one or multiple, the evidence that was obtained certainly shows that there was a plan, a design, an opportunity and ability to carry out the firebombing of the Democratic Headquarters.”
In addition to the prison terms, Breyer also ordered Rogers and Copeland to each serve three years of supervised release, to begin after they serve their prison terms. Rogers has remained in custody since his arrest in January 2021 and Copeland has been in federal custody since his arrest in July 2021. Both defendants will begin serving their prison sentences immediately.