Charlottesville, Virginia - Four California men, who flew from the west coast for the August 2017 Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville to engage in violent behavior, have been arrested on federal criminal complaints and charged with violating the federal riots statute and conspiracy. United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Thomas Chadwick of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Richmond Division, and Captain Dave Cooper of the Virginia State Police made the announcement.
Tuesday morning, federal agents in California arrested Benjamin Drake Daley, 25, of Redondo Beach, California, Thomas Walter Gillen, 24, of Redondo Beach, California, Michael Paul Miselis, 29, of Lawndale, California, and Cole Evan White, 24, of Clayton, California. All four defendants have been charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the federal riots statute and one count of violating the federal riots statute.
“This case should serve as another example of the Department of Justice’s commitment to protecting the life, liberty, and civil rights of all our citizens,” United States Attorney Cullen stated today. “Any individual who has or plans to travel to this District with the intent to engage in acts of violence will be prosecuted and held accountable for those actions.”
“The events of August 2017 do not reflect the character and values of Virginia's communities. The impact is still felt by many. Law enforcement's job is to protect people from harm and to ensure violence like we saw during that time never happens again,” said Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Richmond Division Adam S. Lee. “It is important for communities like Charlottesville to remember who the good guys are - who is sworn to protect them - and support them in their mission. The FBI has worked extensively with Virginia State Police and our local partners to achieve justice for those injured during the rally. Their partnership is how we have arrived at this point in our investigations. I want to thank them and U.S. Attorney Thomas Cullen and his team in the Western District for their expertise and professionalism.”
According to the criminal complaint and accompanying affidavit filed with the court Tuesday, Daley, Gillen, Miselis, White, and others, are members or associates of the Rise Above Movement (RAM), a militant white-supremacist organization based in Southern California. The four defendants traveled to Charlottesville for the August 2017 United the Right Rally with the intent to encourage, promote, incite, participate in, and commit violent acts in furtherance of a riot.
The complaints allege that Daley, Gillen, Miselis, and White committed multiple acts of violence against counter-protestors at the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, which in some cases resulted in serious injuries.
In addition, the complaint alleges that Daley, Gillen, Miselis, and White were present and participated in the torch-lit march that culminated in violence against students and counter protestors on the grounds of the University of Virginia on the night of August 11, 2017.
The investigation of the case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Virginia State Police. United States Attorney Cullen and Assistant United States Attorney Christopher Kavanaugh are prosecuting the case for the United States.
A criminal complaint is only a charge and not evidence of guilt. The defendants are entitled to a fair trial with the burden on the government to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.