Soldier accused of stealing armored personnel carrier plans to plead not guilty

Soldier accused of stealing armored personnel carrier back in jail after leaving country

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The Virginia National Guardsman who police say stole an armored personnel carrier (APC) from Fort Pickett and traveled through downtown Richmond last summer plans to plead not guilty by reason of insanity.

Joshua Philip Yabut, 30, of Richmond, was sent back to jail for violating his bail conditions - traveling out of the country.

Yabut was arrested June 5 and charged with driving under the influence of drugs, felony eluding and a felony count of unauthorized use of a vehicle in Richmond. Yabut’s DUI and unauthorized use of a vehicle charges were set aside Sept. 28, 2018.

A Grand Jury in Nottoway County indicted Yabut July 3, 2018, with felony unauthorized use of a motor vehicle where he’ll face a trial Aug. 19, 2019.

According to court documents, Yabut was granted a $5,000 secured bond Aug. 18, 2018, with the added requirement of a GPS tracking device and that he comply with pre-trial services. It was also noted that Yabut could not leave the state.

On Jan. 22, 2019, court documents state Yabut’s GPS tracker indicated he was at an airport in Norfolk, later pinging him in Jacksonville, FL.

“On Jan. 23, 2018, his GPS tracker indicated he was at the Miami International Airport, and later that day the GPS tracker indicated the location was Ontario, Canada,” court documents state.

Yabut confirmed his GPS tracking to the Virginia National Guard on Jan. 31 for his travel to Florida the week before.

“The defendant also confirmed that he traveled to other countries, including Iraq and Turkey,” court documents state.

A pre-trial violation report out of Richmond stated Yabut was traveling to Iraq “to engage in photography.” That report also says the GPS monitor “went into location fail” while in Ontario, Canada and that a new monitor was installed on Jan. 29, one day after he flew back to Norfolk.

“Yabut stated he had no coherent reason for the travel,” according to court documents.

A Virginia Fusion Center report states Yabut used his military ID card to board military flights, specifically out of the Norfolk Naval Air Station to the Jacksonville Naval Air Station in Florida.

The Virginia Fusion Center (VFC) is made up of state and federal agencies working in conjunction with local partners to “share resources, expertise, and/or information to better identify, detect, prevent, and respond to terrorist and criminal activity utilizing an all crimes/all hazards approach.”

Virginia Army National Guard spokesman, A.A. “Cotton” Puryear, said when Yabut’s chain of command was notified about his bond violation they retrieved his military identification card.

“He had maintained the card in order to access his benefits, to include potential medical care,” Puryear said.

Joshua Yabut posted selfies during the incident to his Twitter page. (Source: movrcx/Twitter)
Joshua Yabut posted selfies during the incident to his Twitter page. (Source: movrcx/Twitter)

Yabut is still a member of the Virginia National Guard, according to Puryear, but is not currently drilling with his unit as his case continues.

“The Virginia National Guard is waiting for the completion of the civilian actions pending against him to take any military disciplinary action,” Puryear said. “Once those civilian actions are complete, the VNG will determine the appropriate course of action in regard to this military status.”

Court documents out of Nottoway County also noted Yabut’s “recent online activity reveals research into bomb making."

The VFC report stated Yabut posted pictures at an Iraqi airport to his social media account. Photos were also found indicating Yabut had “been looking into prices of having Denatonium Benzoate shipped from China.”

According to the court documents, Denatonium Benzoate is used as an aversive agent that is added to automotive and cosmetic products to prevent ingestion due to the severe bitterness caused by the chemical.

Investigators said Yabut’s social media page also displayed information of magazines by Al-Qaeda, discussing “in depth instructions on making pressure cooker bombs” and “construction of train derailment devices”. A post explaining Open Source Jihad was posted on his page.

Portions of Yabut’s medical records from the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in 2018 were also discovered. Those images stated he was diagnosed with Bi-Polar disorder and PTSD.

Yabut was booked at the Richmond City Jail Feb. 6. He’s due back in court April 19 for a mental health evaluation hearing. His trial is scheduled for May in in Richmond.

Yabut, a 1st lieutenant assigned as the commander of the Petersburg-based Headquarters Company, 276th Engineer Battalion, is accused of taking the APC from Fort Pickett and driving it up I-95, through the city of Richmond driving down The Boulevard in Scott’s Addition, along Broad Street in “The Fan” before surrendering at East Broad and 11th Streets at 9:40 p.m.

Soldier accused of stealing armored personnel carrier back in jail after leaving country

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