Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Erie Times E-Edition Article-Feds dismiss case against Erie pair in riots

Posted by M. C. on March 25, 2021

It makes you wonder if the FIB just made the whole thing up.

These agents violated to the first two FIB commandments.

Commandment 1. Never make the bureau look bad.

Commandment 2. Don’t violate Commandment 1.

Truth, justice, serve and protect are way down the list.

This brings to mind the PA Attorney Generals of years past. They would swoop down on some poor bastards and do photo ops with the perps pictures on a chart.

The bigger the chart, the more likely the perps would get plea bargained or charges would be dropped.

Ed Palattella

Erie Times-News USA TODAY NETWORK Federal charges have been dropped against two men from Erie accused of rioting in downtown Cleveland during the George Floyd protests the night of May 30.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Cleveland on Tuesday dismissed the indictment against the defendants, Brandon Michael Althof Long and Devon Bryce Poland, according to court records.

The two were charged and then indicted in June on four charges: conspiracy to riot and cause civil disorder, conspiracy to use fire to commit any felony, interstate travel to riot and transporting any firearm in furtherance of civil disorder.

The FBI accused Althof Long, then 23, and Poland, then 22, of traveling from Erie to Cleveland the night of May 30 and participating in rioting that broke out during a protest over the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25.

Althof Long and Poland were found with weapons that included a Glock pistol and ammunition and two one-pound bottles of Sterno Firestarter Instant Flame gel, the FBI said.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Cleveland dismissed the indictment against Althof Long and Poland by filing a one-sentence motion on Tuesday. The motion, signed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Duncan Brown, does not state the reasons the government dropped the case. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Cleveland said it would have no comment beyond what is in the court filings.

But the office dismissed the charges after a federal judge suppressed the defendants’ statements and evidence that authorities had gathered against them. The ruling meant the government could not use as evidence the pistol, the fire-starting gel and Facebook messages that the FBI said Althof Long and Poland sent to each other.

‘It exonerates my client completely,’ Althof Long’s lawyer, Mitchell Yelsky, said of the dismissal of the indictment. ‘He didn’t do anything remotely illegal when he was in Cleveland the night of May 30.’

Yelsky also said Althof Long and Poland arrived in Cleveland about 10:45 p.m. on May 30, after the major rioting and looting had been quelled.

He said he was pleased that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Cleveland reviewed the case.

Poland’s, lawyer, Timothy C. Ivey, an assistant federal public defender, could not be immediately reached for comment.

The dismissal was first reported by . The FBI said the investigation started after Cleveland Division of Police investigators first encountered the SUV that the pair had driven to Cleveland parked in an alley at about 11:55 p.m. on May 30.

The FBI charged Althof Long, whose name is also listed as Althof-Long in court records, and Poland on June 5 in advance of their indictment on June 11.

The two were initially detained in Erie after they made initial appearances at the federal courthouse on Perry Square before they faced prosecution in federal court in Cleveland. The two were freed on bond following their initial detention.

The FBI in Erie assisted the FBI in Cleveland in making the arrests, which the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Cleveland publicized as investigators looked into whether outsiders contributed to rioting in cities nationwide.

‘At the Justice Department, we hold people accountable for their actions,’ the U.S. attorney for the Cleveland-based Northern District of Ohio, Justin Herdman,

said in anouncing the charges on June 5 . ‘Mr. Long and Mr. Poland were not from Cleveland. They arrived with weapons and the ingredients for an incendiary device and purposefully inserted themselves into a constitutionally protected protest, with the design to exploit it for their own purposes.’

According to the FBI, Althof Long and Poland sent messages to each other via Facebook Messenger on the evening of May 30, as riots were breaking out in Cleveland.

Althof Long in one message asked Poland if he wants to go ‘watch the riots,’ possibly in Pittsburgh, according to the affidavit of probable cause in the FBI’s criminal complaint against the two.

Poland responded that he would like to go, but that ‘my future wife needs me.’ To which Althof Long responded, according to the affidavit: ‘This is a once in a life time thing you can witness and maybe participate in’ and ‘tell her you gotta go overthrow the govt first.’

The two decided to go to Cleveland rather that Pittsburgh, according to the messages.

‘Cleveland seems like a better spot to riot watch,’ Althof Long messaged Poland at 6:10 p.m. on May 30, according to the affidavit. ‘Police shooting teargas and flash bangs, Pittsburgh hasn’t had much of that.’

Shortly after 8 p.m., according to the affidavit, Althof Long picked up Poland and the two drove from Erie to Cleveland.

In suppressing the evidence aganst both defendants, U.S. District Judge Patricia A. Gaughan, the chief judge for the Northern District of Ohio, in November agreed with the defense that police lacked probable cause to arrest Althof Long and Poland on a charge that they had violated a curfew that Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson imposed in response to the unrest.

The defense successfully argued that Jackson’s curfew order created a non-existent crime and did not establish a criminal offense. Though Cleveland authorities said people were charged for curfew violations related to the rioting, court records show that people were actually charged with failure to comply with the lawful order of a police officer, according to the defense.

If Althof Long and Poland had been ordered to leave downtown, and they refused, only then would they have violated the requirement that they comply with a lawful, according to the defense’s motion to dismiss the charges.

In her ruling, issued Nov. 16, Judge Gaughan said the government had presented ‘no evidence that either defendant failed to comply with a lawful order or direction of any police officer.’ Gaughan said an investigator had testified previously that the two complied with all commands given to them by officers at the scene.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Cleveland had appealed the ruling to the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The office dismissed the appeal in light of its dismissal of the charges.

Contact Ed Palattella at

Thousands of protesters walk down Lakeside Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio, toward the Justice Center during a rally May 30 honoring George Floyd, who died in the hands of Minneapolis police on May 25.

Be seeing you

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