Two Athens County sisters are expected to join their brother Tuesday at their initial hearing on federal charges filed against them after authorities say they found video recordings of the three inside the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection.
Abigail Yazdani-Isfehani, 27, also known as Abby Yazdani, and Loruhamah Yazdani-Isfehani, 33, also known as Loru Yazdani, both of Albany, Ohio, each face federal misdemeanor charges of entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly conduct in the U.S. Capitol, and parading, demonstrating, or picketing in the Capitol, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.
Warrants were issued for the two sisters on Feb. 18, and the two were arrested in Columbus on Feb. 23, according to court records.
Their brother, Loammi Yazdani-Isfehani, 31, also known as Elijah Yazdani, and also from Albany, Ohio, had already been charged with similar offenses in May 2021.
The three siblings had an initial appearance in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in Washington via video teleconference on Tuesday. All three have have been released and face an April 28 court date.
The siblings could not be reached by The Dispatch for comment. In fact, the U.S. Attorney's office has been advised to try and contact the three to make sure they have their own attorney or a federal public defender assigned to them for Tuesday's hearing.
The Dispatch did reach their father, Ramin Yazdani-Isfehani, who lives in California. He said he wasn't aware of the charges against his adult children, but emphasized that they were all good Christians.
"My children are not guilty of anything," he said. "They shouldn't be treated this way."
All three were identified through video recordings from Jan. 6, 2021, when a mob supporting former President Donald J. Trump's false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen stormed the Capitol as Congress met to certify the results. Republican Trump lost the election by more than 7 million popular votes and Democrat Joe Biden won the electoral college 306 to Trump's 232.
According to an FBI agent in a case filing in federal court, a witness told the FBI that Loammi Yazdani-Isfehani, Abigail Yazdani-Isfehani and Loruhamah Yazdani-Isfehani traveled to Washington to attend the rally.
According to the witness, Loammi Yazdani-Isfehani admitted that he entered the U.S. Capitol. Before Jan. 6, 2021 Loammi told the witness that Trump was “unfairly cheated” out of a second term, according to the witness. Sometime after the insurrection, Loammi then sent videos to the witness showing him inside the Capitol.
During a May 2021 interview with FBI agents, Loammi Yazdani-Isfehani said he entered the Capitol and that his sisters were with him. A further review of videos showed the two women with him in the Capitol, according to court documents.
A photo in the FBI agent's statement of facts showed Abby Yazdani as a member of the Shawnee State University soccer team. According to the university's bio, she was a midfielder and played during the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 seasons.
During 2020-2021, she was named to the Mid-South Conference's "Champions of Character" team, with the university citing her "strong efforts in the classroom and her excellent, humble character off of it."
The 2021-2022 team roster does not include Abby Yazdani's name. Messages were left Monday by The Dispatch with several officials at Shawnee State seeking comment.
Loruhamah Yazdani-Isfehani voluntarily agreed to be interviewed by the FBI and said that officers allowed her and her siblings to enter the U.S. Capitol. The three walked up a set of stairs into the U.S. Capitol rotunda. She told the FBI that officers told her and others they could not proceed further, but some rioters were "attempting to push their way through the officers" despite warnings, according to court records.
"After hearing that officers had deployed tear gas inside of the U.S. Capitol," Loruhamah told the agent that "the Yazdani-Isfehani siblings attempted to leave the building."
The agent's statement said the three siblings were inside the Capitol for about 37 minutes.
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office for the District of Columbia, William Miller, said in an email the department had no comment on the cases.
According to the U.S. Attorney's office, more than 750 defendants have been arrested in nearly all 50 states and the District of Columbia in connection with the Jan. 6 assault on the nation's Capitol — including more than 35 in Ohio.
More than 235 of those defendants have been charged with assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers or employees, including more than 80 who have been charged with using a deadly or dangerous weapon or causing serious bodily injury to an officer.
About 80 U.S. Capitol Police officers and about 60 officers from the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington were assaulted Jan. 6 at the Capitol, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Athens County sisters face charges related to Jan. 6 riot at Capitol