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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Pennsylvania

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Erie Man Facing Federal Charges for Actions during May 30, 2020 Erie Protest

ERIE, Pa. - A former resident of Erie, Pennsylvania, has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Erie on charges of obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder and possession of an unregistered firearm/destructive device, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.

"Throwing Molotov cocktails at Erie police officers is not the protected First Amendment activity of a peaceful protest; it is a criminal act that violates federal law," said U.S. Attorney Brady. "Make no mistake: if you attack police officers or commit violent crime under the guise of a protest, you will be indicted federally. We will not tolerate these acts in western Pennsylvania."

The two-count Indictment named Tyvarh Nicholson, 29, as the sole defendant.

According to the Indictment presented to the court, Nicholson threw objects and projectiles at Erie police officers during a civil disorder that occurred in downtown Erie on May 30, 2020, causing the obstruction of law enforcement officers engaged in the lawful performance of their official duties. The indictment further alleges that on the same date, Nicholson possessed destructive devices that were not registered to him in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record.

The law provides for a maximum total sentence of 15 years in prison, a fine of $500,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

The government intends to seek the defendant’s detention pending trial.

Assistant United States Attorney Christian A. Trabold is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Erie Police Department conducted the investigation leading to the Indictment in this case.

An indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Topic(s): 
Firearms Offenses
Violent Crime
Updated September 8, 2020