Two Pennsylvania men arrested and charged for traveling to Cleveland to commit acts of violence
Justin E. Herdman, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, announced today that Brandon Michael Althof Long, age 23, and Devon Bryce Poland, age 22, both of Erie, Pennsylvania were arrested today without incident by law enforcement. Agents from the Cleveland Division of FBI arrested both Long and Poland in Erie, Pennsylvania at approximately 6:00 AM.
Long and Poland were charged via criminal complaint today in a federal court in the Northern District of Ohio on charges of engaging and conspiring to engage in interstate travel with a firearm with the intent to use fire to participate in civil unrest and riot, use of fire to commit a felony, and rioting.
“At the Justice Department, we hold people accountable for their actions,” said U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman. “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. We will hold these two accountable for their actions and anyone else who may have violated the law. I believe that we are all seeking the same thing -- accountability, justice, and future days and nights that are free from fear, anxiety and victimization.”
“These two individuals traveled to Cleveland with the sole intent of corrupting what was supposed to be a peaceful protest," said FBI SAC Eric B. Smith "A gun, numerous rounds of ammunition, fire gel, and a hammer are not items consistent with a protest. These are the tools used by criminals to incite and participate in mayhem. The FBI will continue to work with our state and local partners and protect our citizen’s right to peacefully protest. But we will not let people that engage in violence and destruction go unchecked. These two will have their day in court and as will many others that are responsible for the violent destruction of our city last Saturday."
“Everyone has a constitutional right to freedom of speech, to protest, to bring grievance, to express their concerns to government,” said Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson. “Everyone has a right to peacefully demonstrate and protest, but once there is violence against people or property then we need to take action to protect the safety and well-being of our community and citizens. I want to thank our law enforcement partners for their assistance as we look to address the underlying things that have caused the demonstrations in our city.”
According to the criminal complaint filed in this matter, at approximately 11:55 PM on May 30, 2020, the defendants were spotted by Cleveland Police in a vehicle entering an alleyway at the intersection of East 8th St. and Huron Ave. in downtown Cleveland, Ohio.
Cleveland Police observed a male leave the alleyway and approach their police vehicle. The male was on the streets, in public, during civil unrest, in violation of a mandatory curfew put into place by the public order of the Mayor of the City of Cleveland, which went into effect at 8:00 PM.
Cleveland police approached the male and asked him if he owned the vehicle present in the alleyway. Police observed that the vehicle had a Pennsylvania license plate. Police asked the male to confirm that it was his vehicle and that his identity was Brandon Michael Althof Long. Long confirmed both of these facts. Police detained Long for violation of the curfew order. Cleveland police believed the vehicle to have been involved in criminal activities earlier in the day. Long also confirmed that the vehicle was occupied by another male, Devon Bryce Poland.
Both Long and Poland were searched as well as their vehicle. Found inside the vehicle was a pistol, 17 rounds of ammunition, a hammer, a BB gun resembling a pistol, a red plastic bottle of liquid fire starter, two Apple iPhones, and a bottle of liquor believed to have been looted from a store earlier in the day and other objects.
On May 31st, The FBI executed a search warrant on the 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 discussed specially discuss choosing to travel to Cleveland over Pittsburgh and to bring supplies to make a Molotov cocktail, an incendiary device.
Long and Poland will have their initial appearance this morning at 9:00 AM in U.S. Magistrate Judge Richard Lanzillo’s courtroom.
This case is being investigated by the Cleveland Division of the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Duncan Brown and Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Riedl.
A charge 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.