Nazi flag-bearing man who crashed a truck into barriers near the White House pleads guilty to felony

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. He nearly struck two people who were standing next to a park bench, but nobody was injured.

Kandula faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to a felony charge of depredation of government property. U.S. 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, D.C., and rented the truck in Herndon, Virginia, before crashing it into the barriers on May 22, 2023. After Kandula backed up and slammed into the bollards a second time, the disabled truck began smoking from its engine compartment and leaking fluids.

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.

“When agents asked how (Kandula) would seize power, he stated he would ‘Kill the President if that’s what I have to do and would hurt anyone that would stand in my way,’” prosecutors wrote.

Kandula, who is from the St. Louis suburb of Chesterfield, Missouri, said he bought the flag online because he admires Adolf Hitler and the Nazis’ “great history," according to prosecutors.

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.