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Press Release

Rochester man pleads guilty to civil disorder and assaulting federal officers

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of New York

ROCHESTER, N.Y. - U.S. Attorney Trini E. Ross announced today that JohnMichael Santiago, 24, of Rochester, NY, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci to civil disorder and assaulting a federal officer. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles Moynihan, who is handling the case, stated that on September 4, 2020, following the release of information by the Rochester Police Department (RPD) regarding the death of Daniel Prude, a group of protesters damaged property and turned over tables at two restaurants in Rochester, causing numerous patrons to leave. During the evening of September 5, 2020, Santiago was part of a group of approximately 1,500 protesters that gathered at Broad Street and Exchange Boulevard, about a block north of RPD headquarters, where they blocked all lanes of traffic on nearby streets. Over the next few hours, some protesters hurled rocks, bottles, lit fireworks, and other objects at police officers in the area. Some also shined flashlights and pointed lasers at officers. Protesters were repeatedly asked to move onto the sidewalks and leave the area or be subject to arrest. Many disregarded the requests, remained in the streets, and continued to block traffic. Santiago threw an ignited firework in the direction of a line of uniformed RPD officers, which detonated in the immediate vicinity of the officers. Santiago was not arrested that night, but was later interviewed by law enforcement about the incident. Santiago admitted that he attended the protests, brought fireworks to the protests, and threw an ignited mortar-style firework at police officers.

While in custody at the Livingston County Jail, after being charged with civil disorder, Santiago assaulted two corrections officers, throwing a hard plastic cup at one, and striking the other in the face with his fist.  Officers began to wrestle Santiago to secure him, during which one officer suffered contusions and a concussion, and a second suffered a back injury. 

The plea is the result of an investigation by the Rochester Police Department, under the direction of Chief David Smith, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Matthew Miraglia, and the United States Marshall’s Service, under the direction of Marshal Charles Salina.

Sentencing is scheduled for September 3, 2024, at 3:30 p.m. before Judge Geraci.

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Barbara Burns


Updated May 17, 2024

Violent Crime