Two Pennsylvania Men Sentenced in Federal Court Over Torching Police Cars

Da’Jon Lengyel, 24, pictured left, and Christopher West, 36, were both sentenced to federal prison on Friday after their convictions of conspiracy and obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder.Two Pennsylvania men have been sentenced for torching a police car and attempting to burn another vehicle during last year’s protests over the murder of George Floyd. That is hardly surprising given videos showing the men involved in the arson. However, the case raises a long-standing concern over the use of federal rather than state charges in such protest cases.

Da’Jon Lengyel, 24, was sentenced Friday to 27 months in prison. Christopher West, 36, of Pittsburgh was ordered to serve four years. West received a more stringent sentence due to prior criminal history.

They pleaded guilty earlier to conspiracy and obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder in connection to the riot.

Notably, West still faces state charges over allegations that he took a news photographer’s camera. The question however is why these charges were not left in the state system. This was a Pittsburgh police car and the men were arrested by state, not federal, officers.

We previously discussed how state prosecutors have quietly handed over protest cases to federal prosecutors. The shifting of such cases ordinarily will produce longer sentences and, in some cases, insulates local leaders from backlash over prosecuting protesters.

The Biden Administration dropped dozens of protests charges against defendants from the protests last summer. Many of those charges involved efforts to burn or destroy federal buildings, which were more appropriately brought in the federal system.

17 thoughts on “Two Pennsylvania Men Sentenced in Federal Court Over Torching Police Cars”

  1. Federal prosecutors are appointed, not elected, so they can bring charges that are not popular with the local leftie politicos. Unfortunate that the locals are afraid to or won’t do their jobs – glad that the feds are there to back them up.

  2. Maybe federal charges are the only way to ensure any justice.

    So many state prosecutors declined to prosecute BLM rioters, looters, and arsonists, or diverted them to counseling or reparative justice.

  3. A Fentanyl-induced progressive condition, a mob assembled and recording that prevented access by authorized personnel, and multi-trimester nationwide insurrections motivated by diversity [dogma] (i.e. racism).

  4. The local prosecutors have a great reason for handing these cases over to the Feds. Their local leftist constituency don’t want their compatriots prosecuted at all. The local prosecutors ain’t no dummies. They know that they would lose their Mercedes if they get on the wrong side of leftist resisters so they are more than happy to hand it off to the Feds even if it means relinquishing their sovereignty. Are we surprised? Does the word coward come to mind?

  5. The proper question for Professor Turley is why January 6th suspects are being held in extreme conditions without trial while at the same time the Federal Government is dropping charges against offenders who committed far more violent acts.

    This continued imprisonment of American Citizens by the Federal Government….without trial is a violation of their Constitutional Rights.

    Why no concern over that by Professor Turley.

    Those Offenders are entitled to Due Process, speedy trials, and protection from unreasonable treatment.

    Why has the Federal Government not been called upon to document and report on the status of ALL of the Citizens being held in captivity and explain the conditions they are being held under.

    I have no problem with people being arrested for crimes…..but I have a great deal of problem with I see a double standard of justice being perpetrated.

    The January 6th people deserve their day in Court and until then they should be released unless there is a reasonable belief they pose a danger to themselves or others.

    1. So far the guilty please have been for Tresspass – which in this instance never should have been charged – it was improper to lockdown the capital.

      Regardless, the Current DOJ guidelines since Biden took office are to drop tresspass charges against protestors

      Yet these people are being held under heinous conditions and then sentenced to long jail terms for tresspass which pretty much never results in jail.

      The message that left wing nuts are sending is clear:

      Next time bring guns and do not leave until you have actually taken over the government.

  6. This is just another example of The Federal Government crossing over into an area that belongs to the State and citizen of that state. It is taking the rights of the people to enforce their own laws and rights.

  7. From the article:

    “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,” said Scott Brady, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania. “They are criminal acts that violate federal law.””

    What federal laws? Their reasoning for bringing this to a federal level is not clear.

    It is like they are trying to make a federal case out of anything?!

    1. Prairie Rose….you should take about 30 seconds of your life and google “US Code, Criminal Statues, Arson, Assault on a Federal Officer, Resisting Arrest by Federal Officer and see what turns up…from your post I am certain you will be both surprised and also learn something about Federal Law.

      1. Ralph,
        The article says nothing about federal officers. It only notes police officers; thus, bringing this to a federal level is inappropriate.

        1. I saw that….but also said nothing about the location of the police car or the officers….there is a jurisdictional issue that also has to be considered.

          Were any of the Officers or vehicles on Federal Property?

          Did the Incendiary Device violate ATF Regulations?

          Were the two members of, affiliated with, or supporters of a Domestic Terrrorist Organization?

          Were they on Federal Probation or Parole from prior crimes?

          Were they Felons in possession of firearms….there’s several ways to find yourself on Federal Charges.

          They plainly had jurisdiction or the prosecutors are decidedly stupid.

          Were they part of a Riot……did they commit an act of violence during a Riot?

          18 U.S. Code § 2101 – Riots

          1. Ralph,
            Sorry for the delay. I have been rather busy lately, but over the last few days I have given your questions and observations some thought.

            “the location of the police car or the officers….there is a jurisdictional issue that also has to be considered.

            Were any of the Officers or vehicles on Federal Property?”

            No, I do not believe so. I know Pittsburgh a little and based on the backgrounds in the photos, I do not think they were on Federal Property.

            “Did the Incendiary Device violate ATF Regulations?”

            That is a fair question and one I do not know. The article did not describe it much. Does flicking a lit match count as an incendiary device? I doubt that’s all it was, but, if it was, then that is overreach by the Federal government.

            “Were the two members of, affiliated with, or supporters of a Domestic Terrrorist Organization?”

            I doubt it. I do have concerns about how that is being defined, though. It seems to be broadening.

            “Were they on Federal Probation or Parole from prior crimes?”

            Articles often say what other crimes a person has committed or at least the number of crimes they’ve committed in the past. No mention in the article of either issue. Either the journalist left out those details or there weren’t any to report.

            “Were they Felons in possession of firearms….there’s several ways to find yourself on Federal Charges.”

            Good point. Again, no mention in the article of this issue. Either the journalist left out this detail or there wasn’t anything to report.

            “They plainly had jurisdiction or the prosecutors are decidedly stupid.”

            Maybe. I do have concerns about government overreach and the expansion of the federal government, particularly the executive branch.

            “Were they part of a Riot……did they commit an act of violence during a Riot?

            18 U.S. Code § 2101 – Riots”

            The protests morphed into riots. It would depend upon when such a thing was declared, I would think. And, it may depend upon location, too. One area may have still been peacefully protesting while another area had descended into riots.

            You have brought up some good points that were not discussed in the article.

        2. Start with the Federal Statute on Riots……

          18 U.S. Code § 2101 – Riots

          How stupid would a DOJ Prosecutor have to be to take on cases in which the DOJ did not have jurisdiction….and how incompetent would a Federal Judge be to allow the conviction and then penalize the persons convicted?

          1. Ralph,
            This is also of legitimate concern:

            Consequences of Federalizing Criminal Law

            Criminal Justice Volume: 4 Issue: 1 Dated: (Spring 1989) Pages: 16-19,39-41.
            R J Miner

            Annotation
            The ever-increasing federalization of criminal law formerly reserved for State jurisdiction has some undesirable consequences.

            ” The constitution relegates the responsibility for ‘internal order’ to the States. When the U.S. Supreme Court approved Congressional regulation of activities affecting commerce, it sanctioned the most expansive basis for Federal criminal intervention yet invoked…

            It also undermines the dual system of government (Federal-State) envisioned by the Nation’s founders.”

            https://www.ojp.gov/ncjrs/virtual-library/abstracts/consequences-federalizing-criminal-law

  8. “We previously discussed how state prosecutors have quietly handed over protest cases to federal prosecutors.”

    This should stay local. They did not have a good reason, as far as I can tell, to hand power to the federal government.

Leave a Reply