8News Investigates: How a National Guard officer went to 5 countries on supervised release from jail

Taking Action

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — 8News is taking action, digging deeper into the case of a Virginia National Guard soldier accused of stealing an armored vehicle from Fort Pickett last year. 

When 8News attended Joshua P. Yabut’s court appearance in February, it was unclear why his bond was revoked. 

Now court documents reveal Yabut is back in custody after admitting to skipping town and using his military identification card to board a plane from Norfolk Naval Air Station to Jacksonville Naval Air Station in January.

Now court documents reveal Yabut is back in custody after admitting to skipping town and using his military identification card to board a plane from Norfolk Naval Air Station to Jacksonville Naval Air Station in January.

From there, filings indicate he traveled on at least six more commercial planes to five countries, with some on the other side of the world. In a statement to 8News, the Virginia National Guard said Yabut still had a military ID because he needed it to access medical care.

When 1st Lt. Yabut’s chain of command was notified he had been charged with violating the conditions of his bond, they retrieved his military identification card. He had maintained the card in order to access his benefits, to include potential medical care.

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

He still a member of the Virginia National Guard, but he is not currently drilling with his unit while the judicial process continues.”

The HQ Air Mobility Command explained military members are permitted to use open seats on military flights with a valid military ID. 

Captain Kenneth Hicks, Jr, with HQ Air Mobility Command, says they cannot disclose security procedures for these ID’s related to military planes.

8News Legal Analyst Russ Stone also recognizes red flags with these latest developments in Yabut’s case.

“We probably will not know how it is that he got on the military aircraft because I suspect that the military is gonna be fairly close to the vest on stuff like that,” said Stone.

Court documents say Yabut’s GPS monitor, which he had to wear as a term of his release, went into location failure once he entered into Canada. Canada was among the countries he admitting to visiting during a six-day period in January. The others are Iceland, Germany, Turkey, and Iraq.

“Particularly with the military aspect of it and the fact that he was on a monitor it does surprise me that he was able to get as far as he did,” said Stone.

8News reached out to Yabut’s defense attorney about why he still had his passport, considering he was expected to stay in Virginia as a term of his release. We are still waiting to hear back.

Yabut has since surrendered both his military ID and passport.

He is behind bars at the Richmond Justice Center and was scheduled to be back in court on April 19 for his initial charges related to the incident last summer. There is no word if additional charges will be filed.

Sources told 8News on May 14 that Yabut plans to plead not guilty by reason of insanity in Nottoway County. 

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