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Press Release

Oakland Man Sentenced To 30 Months In Prison For Possessing Explosive Device

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of California

OAKLAND – Giovonni Gaines was sentenced today to 30 months in prison for possession of an unregistered firearm, announced United States Attorney David L. Anderson and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent In Charge John F. Bennett.  The sentence was handed down by the Hon. Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, U.S. District Judge.             

Gaines, 23, of Oakland, pleaded guilty to the charge on April 4, 2019.  According to his plea agreement, weeks before July 23, 2018, Gaines bought an explosive device from somebody in his neighborhood.  The device was comprised of a metallic substance capped at both ends, was one inch in diameter, was six inches long, and contained an explosive charge.  On July 23, 2018, he traveled by bicycle with the device in a backpack to a protest near the 1900 block of Broadway in Oakland.  There were approximately 1000 people and dozens of law enforcement officers present.  Gaines saw officers from the Oakland Police Department clashing with some protesters and took the device out of his backpack.  He lit the device and handed it to a juvenile near him.  Gaines admitted he instructed the juvenile to throw the device toward law enforcement officers to create a distraction and disrupt the officers’ efforts to maintain a peaceful protest.  The juvenile threw the device and it exploded.  Gaines acknowledged that he heard the blast and later learned the explosion injured approximately ten officers and caused damage to Oakland Police Department property.

On December 21, 2018, Gaines was charged by Information with one count of possessing an unregistered firearm, in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 5861(d).  Gaines pleaded guilty to the charge.  

In addition to the prison term, Judge Gonzalez Rogers sentenced the defendant to a three-year period of supervised release.  Judge Gonzalez Rogers ordered the defendant to surrender on a date in September to begin serving his prison term.  

The case is being prosecuted by the Special Prosecutions and National Security Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Francisco and investigated by the FBI.

Updated July 18, 2019