Charlottesville grand jury indicts California men on federal charges

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- A Charlottesville grand jury has indicted four men from California on charges connected to the events of Aug. 11 and 12, 2017.

An image released by the FBI showing members of the Rise Above Movement attending the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, 2017, including Benjamin Daley, Michael Miselis, Thomas Gillen and Cole White.

U.S. Attorney Thomas Cullen announced Wednesday that all four have been indicted for conspiring to violate the federal riots statute.

The men are 25-year-old Benjamin Drake Daley of Redondo Beach, 24-year-old Thomas Walter Gillen of Redondo Beach, 29-year-old Michael Paul Miselis of Lawndale, and 24-year-old Cole Evan White of Clayton.

All four men were arrested in California on Oct. 2.

According to a release, the indictment charges each man with one count of conspiracy to violate the federal riots act and one count of traveling in interstate commerce from California to Virginia with the intent to incite a riot, organize, promote, encourage, participate in, and carry on in a riot, to commit an act of violence in furtherance of a riot, or aid or abet any person inciting and participating in or carrying on in a riot.

The release says the men began associated with a white-supremacist organization that eventually became known as the Rise Above Movement as early as March 2017.

RAM, as the organization is also known, openly identified as alt-right and nationalist. It's members frequently post images and videos of themselves engaging in physical training and mixed martial arts street-fighting techniques along with references to their beliefs.

The indictment says these men also expressed anti-Semitic, racist and white supremacist views and promoted violence against those they believe held opposing views through various social media platforms.

Between March and August 2017, the indictment says RAM and its members traveled to multiple political rallies and demonstrations in Virginia and California where they prepared to and engaged in acts of violence.

The indictment details at least two other occasions involving the four men at political rallies in California on March 25 and April 15.

It alleges the four men purchased plane tickets using debit and credit cards to fly from Los Angeles and San Francisco to Charlottesville prior to the events on Aug. 11 and 12.

They also rented rooms within Charlottesville for the dates of Aug. 11, 12 and 13.

On Aug. 11, all four participated in a torch-lit march on the University of Virginia Grounds that ended in violence in front of the Rotunda.

Then on Aug. 12, they attended the Unite the Right rally in downtown Charlottesville.

In both instances, they are accused of inciting, promoting, or encouraging a riot and committing acts of violence.

Daley, Gillen, Miselis and White made initial appearances in California courtrooms last week.

Daley and Gillen were remanded into the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service to be transferred to Virginia.

Miselis was ordered released on a secured bond and home confinement, but that has been delayed pending a government appeal before Judge Norman Moon in Virginia who will make a determination on his eligibility for release pending trial.

White will be in court on Oct. 12 for a detention hearing.

Once all four men have been transferred to Virginia, they will appear before either Judge Joel Hoppe or Moon for arraignment.



 
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