Buffalo prosecutor drops charges against Buffalo BLM City Hall arsonist

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BUFFALO, NY – Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn directed Assistant District Attorney Nicholas C. Bussi to move to dismiss the indictment against 22-year-old Courtland Renford of Buffalo in the interest of justice. District Attorney Flynn made the decision to no longer pursue a conviction against the defendant after he was sentenced to 5 years in federal prison for the same criminal conduct. Today, Erie County Court Judge Sheila A. DiTullio granted the prosecution’s motion and dismissed all charges in this case.

Renford was indicted by a Grand Jury on one count of Arson in the Third Degree (Class “C” felony) and one count of Burglary in the Third Degree (Class “D” felony) for his alleged criminal conduct in two separate incidents that occurred in the City of Buffalo on Saturday, May 30, 2020.

The defendant was accused of intentionally throwing a burning box through a first-floor window of City Hall during a protest in Niagara Square. The fire was quickly extinguished by members of the Buffalo Fire Department, but caused damaged to the walls and the floor of the building. It was further alleged that earlier the same evening, the defendant, along with other unknown individuals, gained entry of a convenience store on Elmwood Avenue near Summer Street through a broken glass door. The defendant was accused of unlawfully entering the store to steal a beverage and multiple packs of cigarettes.

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Renford was prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York for these crimes. The defendant pleaded guilty to a federal charge and was sentenced to a term of 60 months of imprisonment.

“Despite the serious nature of these offenses, I sought to dismiss this case in the interest of justice as justice has already been served by this defendant being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. This defendant pleaded guilty and received a significant sentence of 5 years in federal prison. Therefore, I will no longer be seeking a conviction against this defendant,” said Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn.

DA Flynn commends the Buffalo Police Department, Buffalo Fire Department, and the United States Department of Justice Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives for their work in the investigation.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Nicholas C. Bussi of the Arson Investigation Unit and Assistant District Attorney Lauren M. Creighton of the Felony Trials Bureau.

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