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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Sixth Washington state man charged in U.S. Capitol breach case

UPDATED: Fri., May 14, 2021

According to the FBI, Joseph Elliott Zlab, center in red, was captured on photos and in video footage entering the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 with a pro-Trump mob that sought to disrupt Congress’ certification of the 2020 presidential election results.  (FBI)
According to the FBI, Joseph Elliott Zlab, center in red, was captured on photos and in video footage entering the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 with a pro-Trump mob that sought to disrupt Congress’ certification of the 2020 presidential election results. (FBI)
By Lewis Kamb Seattle Times

A King County man has been arrested and charged with entering the U.S. Capitol with a pro-Trump mob during January’s deadly insurrection.

Joseph Elliott Zlab, 51, of Lake Forest Park, was arrested in Everett early Thursday without incident, an FBI spokesman said Friday. Zlab was charged in a complaint filed in the District of Columbia with one count of unauthorized entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds, and one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, according to documents.

Zlab, who runs JMZ Contractors, a construction firm in Everett, made an initial appearance on the charge in federal court in Seattle on Thursday. He faces up to a year and a half in prison, if convicted.

Neither Zlab nor his federal public defender responded to messages left for them Friday.

According to an FBI affidavit, a white, middle-aged man matching Zlab’s description was captured in widely disseminated photographs and video entering the Capitol on Jan. 6 with the mob that forced entry into the building while Congress was certifying the 2020 presidential election results. The man was “wearing a red baseball cap and a red jacket, holding a yellow ‘Don’t Tread On Me’ flag,” the affidavit states.

Ten days later, the FBI received an anonymous tip that Zlab was in the Capitol on Jan. 6 and gave the name of Zlab’s business. A federal agent later found a picture of Zlab on his business’ website and called him, the affidavit states.

During the phone call, Zlab “confirmed he attended President Trump’s speech on January 6, 2021 and participated in the march to the U.S. Capitol,” the statement says. “Zlab stated he circled the Capitol building two to three times taking pictures.”

When the agent asked Zlab if he went inside the Capitol building, Zlab “stated that he thought he needed an attorney because he did not want to say anything incriminating,” the affidavit states.

After the agent later obtained more photos and footage of Zlab allegedly entering and walking inside the Capitol, the FBI obtained a search warrant April 8 for Zlab’s gmail account and found a folder, dated Jan. 6. It contained several photographs of the Capitol’s interior, including one that appears to depict other protesters in a haze-filled corridor.

Later in April, the FBI conducted surveillance outside of Zlab’s business, and took a photo of Zlab that an agent used to confirm he was the man with the flag, wearing the red cap and jacket, captured in the Jan. 6 images inside the Capitol, the affidavit states.

Zlab is the sixth Washington resident to be charged in connection with the siege on the U.S. Capitol. The others include Mark Leffingwell, 51, of Seattle; Ethan Nordean, 30, who lives near Auburn; Jeffrey Grace, 61, of Battle Ground; Taylor Johnatakis, 38, of Kingston; and Marc Bru, 41, of Vancouver.

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