March 2, 2022
NEWARK, N.J. – A Mercer County, New Jersey, man was sentenced today to 30 months in prison for attempting to interfere with law enforcement officers during a civil disorder when he attempted to set fire to a police vehicle during a riot in Trenton, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.
Earlja J. Dudley, 28, of Trenton, previously pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Brian R. Martinotti to an information charging him with one count of attempting to obstruct, impede, or interfere with law enforcement officers during a civil disorder affecting commerce. Judge Martinotti imposed the sentence by videoconference today.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
On May 31, 2020, large-scale protests were held throughout the United States, including in Trenton, in response to the death of George Floyd. Although the May 31st protest in Trenton was peaceful earlier in the day, violence erupted later. A group of individuals proceeded down East State Street in downtown Trenton and began to riot, smashing store fronts, looting stores, and attacking multiple marked Trenton Police Department vehicles parked on the 100 Block of East State Street.
A City of Trenton street camera and other video footage taken by an individual present on the street captured Dudley and an unidentified male open the hood of a police vehicle. Dudley was then joined by another unidentified male who ignited an object that Dudley was holding. Dudley then placed the flaming object into the engine well of a Trenton Police Department vehicle, attempting to set the police vehicle on fire. Law enforcement later identified Dudley through analysis of street camera and other video footage and he was arrested on June 17, 2020.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Martinotti sentenced Dudley to three years of supervised release.
Dudley is the third of four individuals sentenced in connection with the protest in Trenton. Killian F. Melecio was sentenced in June 2021 to 28 months in prison and three years of supervised release; Justin D. Spry was sentenced in September 2021 to 24 months in prison and three years of supervised release. Kadeem A. Dockery previously pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI and task force officers of the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Newark, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr., with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing. He also thanked officers of the Trenton Police Department, under the direction of Police Director Steve E. Wilson; troopers of the New Jersey State Police, under the direction of Col. Patrick J. Callahan; and officers of the New Jersey Department of Corrections, under the direction of Acting Commissioner Victoria L. Kuhn, for their assistance.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alexander E. Ramey and Michelle S. Gasparian of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division in Trenton.
Defense counsel: Lisa Van Hoeck Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defender, Trenton
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