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Plea talks held for accused U.S. Capitol rioter who wore George Washington costume Reuters via biedexmarkets.com


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump react to tear gas during a clash with police officers in front of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, U.S., January 6, 2021. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo

By Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Prosecutors have opened discussions about a possible plea deal with a Missouri locksmith who entered the U.S. Capitol during the deadly Jan. 6 riot wearing a costume that looked like George Washington, a government lawyer said on Tuesday.

Preliminary discussions have begun “about a possible resolution without a trial” in the case of Isaac Yoder, owner of Yoder’s Lock and Key of Nevada, Missouri, Assistant U.S. Attorney Mona Furst told a hearing before U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan.

During the hearing, Yoder formally entered pleas of not guilty to four riot-related misdemeanor charges, including violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

A statement of facts prepared by the FBI said that Yoder admitted to investigators in March that he had entered the Capitol on Jan. 6 and made his way to the building’s famous rotunda.

The riot was carried out by supporters of then-President Donald Trump who interrupted the formal congressional certification of President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory.

Yoder was dressed in a costume resembling Washington, the first U.S. president, with a tricorn hat and long overcoat. The FBI said Yoder brought with him to an interview with the agency before his arrest “the colonial attire he wore on January 6, 2021.”

The FBI said that while inside the Capitol’s crypt, Yoder “was observed stopping so people could take his picture.”

In another case on Tuesday involving riot-related charges, a federal prosecutor told U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden that another defendant, Timothy Hale-Cusanelli, rejected a government plea offer carrying a prison term of 15 to 21 months. Defense lawyer Jonathan Crisp said prosecutors rejected a defense counter-offer.

Hale-Cusanelli, a former U.S. Navy base security guard, faces felony riot charges. Hale-Cusanelli has been in pre-trial detention since January, according to court records.

A federal appeals court rejected a plea that he be released on bail, citing evidence that he holds extremist views of women, Jewish people and other minorities and that he had reported to his place of work with a “Hitler mustache.”

More than 570 people face criminal charges related to the riot.