The 45-year-old Grand Coulee man who allegedly threatened volunteers and set a fire inside the Spokane County Democrats office last month faces at least five years in federal prison following an indictment filed Tuesday.
Peter James Yeager has been charged with a single count of damaging by fire a building used in interstate commerce. The charge carries a minimum prison sentence of five years, and could be punishable by up to 20 years in custody.
Authorities say Yeager traveled to Spokane with gasoline, oil, toilet paper and a camping lighter, which he used to set fire to the building housing both the party offices and the local chapter of the Teamsters on Dec. 9. Workers there said Yeager threatened them with a bomb, and one member of the Teamsters said he was held hostage by Yeager inside the building as police arrived.
The fire damaged some mailers intended to be sent ahead of the Georgia runoff election for the U.S. Senate, which was taking place Tuesday as Yeager was charged in federal court.
Yeager had been charged with first-degree arson, first-degree burglary and threats to bomb or injure property in Spokane County Superior Court, and is being held in the Spokane County Jail in lieu of a $500,000 bond. The state charges do not carry a mandatory minimum sentence, as the federal charge does.
Earl D. Camp, the FBI’s acting special agent in charge at the Seattle field office, commended the work of the Spokane Police Department and other law enforcement agencies in handling the incident.
“The Inland Northwest Joint Terrorism Task Force’s swift actions, especially by our partners at Spokane Police Department, averted an already hazardous situation from spiraling dangerously out of control,” Camp said in a news release announcing the indictment.
A competency examination has been ordered in the state case. A hearing in federal court has not yet been scheduled for Yeager.
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