Driver Pleads Guilty in White House Crash

Sai Varshith Kandula, who brought a Nazi flag, faces 10 years in prison
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 13, 2024 4:28 PM CDT
Driver Pleads Guilty in White House Crash
Tire marks remain on a curb in Lafayette Square park near the White House on May 23, 2023, in Washington.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

A Missouri man who crashed a rental truck into White House barriers and showed a Nazi flag before his arrest last year pleaded guilty on Monday to damaging government property, court records show. Sai Varshith Kandula, 20, drove a U-Haul truck onto a sidewalk, sending pedestrians running for safety, before ramming it into metal bollard barriers near White House grounds. Nobody was injured, but he nearly struck two people who were standing next to a park bench. Kandula faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to a felony charge of depredation of government property, the AP reports. US District Judge Dabney Friedrich is scheduled to sentence him on Aug. 23.

Prosecutors agreed to recommend a prison sentence no longer than eight years for Kandula, but the judge isn't bound by that term of his plea agreement. Kandula, then 19, flew from St. Louis to Washington, DC, and rented the truck in Virginia before crashing it into the barriers on May 22, 2023. Kandula was arrested after he exited the truck and retrieved a flag bearing a Nazi swastika from his backpack. Authorities didn't find any weapons, ammunition, or explosives in his possession.

Kandula told Secret Service agents that his goal was to "get to the White House, seize power, and be put in charge of the nation," according to prosecutors, who said he told agents he'd kill the president if that's what it took. Defense attorney Scott Rosenblum said Kandula is taking medication to treat schizophrenia. Rosenblum said he expects to have a medical specialist address the court at Kandula's sentencing.

(More White House stories.)

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