Missouri locksmith who dressed as George Washington at Capitol riot has court hearing

·4 min read
Federal court documents

A Missouri locksmith who prosecutors say invaded the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 dressed as George Washington is considering a plea deal with the government, his attorney told a federal judge on Thursday.

“We are in the plea negotiation stage,” said John Machado, who is representing Isaac Yoder, owner of Yoder Lock and Key in Nevada, Missouri. He added, however, “I don’t want to lead the court in that it’s absolutely going to be a plea and we’re just trying to iron things out. I don’t know which direction we’ll be going, to be quite frank.”

Yoder, who was arrested in Springfield on Aug. 4, appeared via video conference Thursday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. He is charged with knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building; disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building; disorderly conduct in a Capitol building; and parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building. The four counts are misdemeanors.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mona Furst told Judge Emmet G. Sullivan that the government sent Machado a plea agreement a few months ago.

“He has indicated to me that he will go over that with his client,” said Furst, who works in the U.S. Attorney’s Wichita office. “He is hopeful that maybe after speaking with his client we might be able to resolve this without a trial.”

Sullivan set Yoder’s next court hearing for March 15.

Yoder is among 18 Missouri residents charged in the insurrection. Of those, one has been sentenced and nine others have pleaded guilty and await sentencing.

Authorities became aware of Yoder on Feb. 26, 2021, when the FBI National Threat Operations Center received an online tip, according to the probable cause affidavit filed in his case. The tipster said a man named Yoder who worked at a locksmith business in Nevada had stormed the Capitol in a George Washington costume.

The FBI called up the website of Yoder Lock and Key and found a photo of a man in colonial attire identified as Isaac Yoder, the business owner. A comparison of that photo, Yoder’s driver’s license and an image of a man in colonial garb inside the Capitol on Jan. 6 indicated that they appeared to be the same person, the affidavit said.

AT&T records obtained through a search warrant also showed that on the day of the riot, the cellphone associated with Yoder had used a cell site that provided services to the area that included the Capitol interior.

FBI agents interviewed Yoder on March 16 in Joplin. Yoder admitted that he had entered the Capitol on Jan. 6, according to the affidavit, saying he saw barricades and broken windows before going inside. He told agents that he’d gone to the Capitol after attending a pro-Trump rally with family members and that he later learned “his brothers had been exposed to tear gas, and one was hit by rubber bullets.”

Yoder said that once inside the building, he made his way down a hallway to the Capitol rotunda and saw officers standing next to every statue in the area.

“He described the situation appeared somewhat under control with law enforcement and people standing around,” the affidavit said. “People were using their phones and photographing everything. He was sure that he was captured in multiple images from photographs taken inside the Capitol.”

Yoder brought his cellphone and the colonial outfit he wore on Jan. 6 to the interview with FBI agents, the document said. The clothing matched what he was seen wearing on the Capitol Police closed circuit television recordings from that day. A review of the recordings showed that Yoder entered the Capitol at 3:14 p.m. and exited at 3:32 p.m., the document said.

“While inside the Crypt, he was observed stopping so people could take his picture,” it said.

Three days after Yoder’s interview with the FBI, Newsweek published a story about him. In the article, Yoder said the mob at the Capitol didn’t go there to cause trouble.

“Most of us out there are on the side of the aisle who are the gun owners,” Yoder told Newsweek. “If we had collectively gone there to cause trouble there would have been piles of bodies. We could have leveled things.”

He said those who went to the nation’s capitol were there “to preserve our country.”

“It was turning out to support our president,” he said, “but also to stand up for our country and it’s much bigger than Trump and the election.”

According to the Newsweek story, Yoder didn’t seem worried that he might be arrested.

“That doesn’t concern me,” Yoder said. “The anarchy in government is what concerns me.”

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