Klete Keller negotiating a plea bargain in U.S. Capitol riot case

Klete Keller flexes poolside at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Swimmer Klete Keller, shown poolside at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, was charged with participating in the riot at the U.S. Capitol after video appeared to show him among those storming the building.
(Thomas Kienzle / Associated Press)

A plea bargain could be in the works for swimmer Klete Keller, the five-time Olympic medalist from USC charged in the U.S. Capitol riot, according to a motion filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Washington.

“The parties have also begun discussing a potential resolution of this case and need more time to continue the discussions,” Assistant U.S. Atty. Amanda Jawad wrote in the unopposed motion to continue.

Edward B. MacMahon Jr., Keller’s attorney, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

During a status conference held via videoconference Friday, Jawad told Judge Richard J. Leon that the government hasn’t made a formal plea offer, but one could come “relatively quickly.”


A federal grand jury in February indicted Keller on seven counts in connection with the riot, including civil disorder, obstructing an official proceeding and disorderly conduct in a restricted building.

Former USC swimmer Klete Keller, who won five Olympic medals for the U.S., has been charged in connection with participation in the Capitol riot.

Jan. 13, 2021

“Mr. Keller is alleged to have unlawfully entered the Capitol, marched around various parts of the building, participated in chants while standing off with law enforcement officers, and impeded law enforcement efforts to address the civil disorder,” the motion said.

Keller, who is free on a personal recognizance bond, has pleaded not guilty.

Keller was first publicly linked to the riot through a video recorded by a journalist of the chaos in the Capitol Rotunda on Jan. 6. The former swimmer stood out because of his U.S. Olympic team jacket and 6-foot-6 height. The FBI arrested Keller on Jan. 14 and, according to court records, searched his Colorado Springs, Colo., home the same day.

The motion states preliminary discovery provided to Keller includes “FBI materials such as tip reports, law enforcement interviews, videos, and open-source database searches, photographs and materials related to the search of Mr. Keller’s residence, open-source videos portraying Mr. Keller in the Capitol building, and Capitol surveillance footage.”


Leon pressed Jawad during Friday’s hearing about the timeline to producing any additional discovery material.

“Why is this being so prolonged?” Leon asked. “I’m having a hard time understanding that.”

Jawad noted the sprawling investigation into the riot has led to charges against more than 450 people and could result in charges against at least 100 others while producing a mountain of evidence.

MacMahon told the court he joined the motion to continue the case because he wants the opportunity to obtain more discovery in light of the “unique situation” presented by such a large investigation.

“I want to reiterate my concern that this case has been hanging over this defendant’s head for months,” Leon said. “I’m sure it’s had consequences for him in terms of his life, his employability issues. ... I can’t emphasize enough for the government the need to move things along rapidly.”

Former Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer Klete Keller pleaded not guilty to charges related to his alleged involvement in the U.S. Capitol riot.

March 9, 2021

Keller competed in the Olympics three times, winning gold medals in the 800-meter freestyle relay in 2004 in Athens and in 2008 in Beijing.

His next hearing is schedule for Aug. 4.