Feds Indict 8 Rioters In May 30 Pittsburgh Demonstration

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PITTSBURGH – Eight Pittsburgh-area residents have been charged in six separate indictments for criminal activity perpetuated during a civil disorder in the City of Pittsburgh, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today. The alleged criminal acts occurred while Pittsburgh Police officers were engaged in responding to the violent demonstration in downtown Pittsburgh on May 30, 2020 at the same time that many other citizens were lawfully protesting over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The indictments were returned under seal on July 22, 2020, and the final two indictments were unsealed today.

“Throwing IEDs and bricks at police officers, throwing projectiles at and striking police horses, and setting police cruisers on fire are not the protected First Amendment activities of a peaceful protest; they are criminal acts that violate federal law,” said U.S. Attorney Brady. “We will continue to identify and prosecute these agitators, whose acts of violence hijacked a lawful protest and undermined a message of equality with one of destruction.”

The first indictment charges George Allen, 31, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with one count of obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder. According to the Indictment, on or about May 30, 2020, Allen knowingly and willfully caused damage to a police officer’s police vehicle by throwing a projectile through the front passenger window of the vehicle, causing the obstruction, impediment and interference of law enforcement officers engaged in the lawful performance of their official duties.

A second indictment charges Nicholas Lucia, 25, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with one count of obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder. According to the Indictment, on or about May 30, 2020, Lucia knowingly and willfully threw an object at uniformed police officers that appeared to be an explosive device, which landed on an officer’s vest, was quickly pulled off by another officer, and thereafter exploded when it hit the ground, causing the obstruction, impediment and interference of law enforcement officers engaged in the lawful performance of their official duties.

A third indictment charges Andrew Augustyniak-Duncan, 25, of Carnegie, Pennsylvania, with one count of obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder. According to the Indictment, on or about May 30, 2020, Augustyniak-Duncan knowingly and willfully threw projectiles at several police officers, causing the obstruction, impediment and interference of law enforcement officers engaged in the lawful performance of their official duties.

A fourth indictment charges Raekwon Dac Blankenship, 24, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder. According to the Indictment, on or about May 30, 2020, Blankenship knowingly and willfully caused damage to a police officer’s unmarked police vehicle by hitting, kicking and stomping on various parts of that vehicle, knowingly and willfully caused damage to a police officer’s marked vehicle by throwing a projectile into the windshield, and poked and struck multiple police horses, causing the obstruction, impediment and interference of law enforcement officers engaged in the lawful performance of their official duties

The grand jury also returned a two-count indictment charging Devin Montgomery, 24, and Brandon Benson, 29, each of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with malicious destruction or damage by fire of a vehicle of an organization receiving federal financial assistance and bank burglary. According to the Indictment, on May 30, 2020, Devin Montgomery maliciously damaged and destroyed by fire a police vehicle leased and possessed by the City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Police. The indictment further alleges that on May 30, 2020, Devin Montgomery and Brandon Benson entered and attempted to enter the Dollar Bank, located at 537 Smithfield Street in Pittsburgh, with the intent to take property, money or thing of value. The bank’s deposits were then insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

Finally, the grand jury returned a four-count indictment that named Da’Jon Lengyel, 22, of McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, and Christopher West, 35, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as defendants. Counts one and two of the indictment allege that on or about May 30, 2020, Da’Jon Lengyel and Chrisopher West knowingly conspired to and did maliciously damage and destroy by fire a police vehicle leased and possessed by the City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, an organization receiving federal financial assistance. In addition, Counts three and four of the indictment allege that on May 30, 2020, Lengyel and West, respectively, knowingly and willfully caused damage to a police officer’s vehicle by hitting, kicking and stomping on various parts of the vehicle and by joining others to destroy the vehicle by fire. The indictment alleges this conduct resulted in the obstruction, impediment and interference of a law enforcement officer engaged in the lawful performance of his official duties.

“The actions of the accused were uncalled for and prevented law enforcement officers from carrying out their duties to protect and serve our community,” said FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Michael Christman. “The FBI respects the rights of people to peacefully exercise their First Amendment freedoms but will not stand by and let those with a violent agenda take over peaceful protests. We, alongside the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, worked around the clock to uncover the faces behind the destruction and obstruction of law enforcement. We are not done. We continue to use all of our investigative resources to find each person who chose to start a violent confrontation.”

“The defendants in this case posed as protesters to hijack otherwise peaceful demonstrations,” said John Schmidt, acting Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives’ Philadelphia Field Division. “ATF supports every citizens’ constitutional right to peaceably protest, and we are committed to rooting out those who use the current situation for their own nefarious intentions. Rest assured we will continue to work with our local and state partners to investigate violent acts committed during these unprecedented times until the criminal offenders are brought to justice.”

“I would like to thank our law enforcement partners with FBI Pittsburgh, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, plus the Damage Assessment and Accountability Taskforce for continuing to seek justice in these matters. The lawlessness we saw on May 30 cannot be tolerated. We appreciate the support to hold accountable those who committed violent acts in the City of Pittsburgh,” Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said.

“The Pittsburgh Bureau of Police is committed to serving every resident, every visitor, and every person who works in the city of Pittsburgh. We have a track record of assuring the public’s First Amendment rights, and we will continue to protect those rights. But when protests turn violent, we have an obligation to protect everyone—including business owners, peaceful protesters, and law enforcement officers who are attacked for simply doing their jobs,” Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert said.

For Allen, Lucia, Duncan and Blankenship, the law provides for a maximum total sentence of not more than five years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or both. For Montgomery, the law provides for a mandatory minimum of five years and a maximum of 25 years in prison, a fine of $500,000, or both. For Benson, the law provides for a maximum total sentence of 25 years in prison, a fine of $500,000, or both. For Lengyel and West the law provides for a mandatory minimum of five years and a maximum of 30 years in prison, a fine of $750,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant(s).

U.S. Attorney Brady credited the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police for the investigation leading to these indictments.

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