EERIE, PA – Justin E. Herdman, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, announced today that a federal grand jury returned a four-count indictment charging Brandon Michael Althof Long, age 23, and Devon Bryce Poland, age 22, both of Erie, Pennsylvania with one count each of conspiracy to riot and cause civil disorder, conspiracy to use fire to commit a felony, interstate travel to riot and transporting any firearm in furtherance of civil disorder.
“Today’s indictment alleges that these two defendants traveled across state lines not to engage in Constitutionally protected free speech, but with the intent to burn and loot downtown Cleveland,” said U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman. “The men and women of the Justice Department, working with our state and local partners, are committed to holding accountable anyone responsible for the numerous criminal actions that occurred in Cleveland on May 30. This indictment represents the first of such federal charges filed in this district, but they are not expected to be the last.”
“The indictments of Mr. Poland and Mr. Long mark just the beginning of our combined law enforcement effort to identify, locate, and apprehend those who exploited a peaceful protest for their personal, but very short-term, gain,” said FBI SAC Eric B. Smith. “The FBI, along with all of our federal, state, and local partners, will not cease in our efforts to bring those responsible for May 30th’s carnage to justice. We continue to review every available photo, video, and social media posting to piece together the violent activity that occurred in Cleveland, and to identify those who had a hand in making it happen.”
According to the indictment, on May 30, 2020, Long and Poland drove to the city of Cleveland with the intent to participate in a riot and commit acts of violence. Long and Poland were arrested near the intersection of East 8th Street, an alleyway, and Huron Avenue in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, in possession of a black backpack containing a hammer, two containers of Sterno Firestarter Instant Flame Gel, a can of spray paint and a glass bottle of liquor with a bar-style pour top. A Glock semi-automatic firearm and two magazines loaded with ammunition were also located in their vehicle.
On May 31st, The FBI executed a search warrant on iPhones found in the defendant’s vehicle and reviewed messages between Long and Poland that contain statements that demonstrate an intent by Long and Poland to travel from Pennsylvania to Cleveland, Ohio on May 30, 2020, to participate in, promote, encourage, and aid and abet the criminal riots. In these messages, the defendants discuss bringing with them supplies for an incendiary device, looting and rioting.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the Court after a review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal records, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation. In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases, it will be less than the maximum.
This case is being investigated by the Cleveland Division of the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Duncan Brown.