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Thursday, March 19, 2020

Brandon Baxter, Jailed for Bridge Bomb Plot in 2012, was Released to Halfway House. Then He Spoke to PD About Coronavirus. Then he got Shipped Back to Prison.

Posted By on Thu, Mar 19, 2020 at 11:50 AM

click to enlarge PHOTO VIA THINKSTOCK
  • Photo via Thinkstock

A 27-year-old man who was recently released from federal prison after serving time for a conspiracy to blow up the Valley View Bridge in 2012 is back in prison after speaking to a local reporter.

Brandon Baxter, one of the "Cleveland 4," was released from a South Carolina prison in January and has been living at Oriana House, a transitional facility on E. 55th Street. Baxter spoke to the Plain Dealer about conditions there and, along with other residents, shared concerns about the spread of the novel Coronavirus, which causes COVID-19.

He said that residents were "freaking out" about the pandemic and expressed particular concern about residents in their 60s and 70s. 

Friends of Baxter's, and members of the local Cleveland Pandemic Response Group, reported that after the story was published, Baxter's phone was confiscated and he was returned to the custody of the U.S. Marshals. Phones of other residents were said to have been confiscated as well.

An Oriana House spokesperson did not immediately respond to a voicemail and email from Scene, but the PD's Rachel Dissell quoted Oriana's Executive Vice President, Bernie Rochford, saying that speaking to the media without permission violated Federal prison guidelines. He provided that comment after initially saying he had no qualms with residents speaking to reporters. 

(Dissell noted that the PD had spoken to a number of residents, but that Baxter agreed to have his name used. Oriana House staff reportedly thought he had sent the PD a photo from inside the facility, which was against the rules, but the photo had been sent by a different resident.)

Baxter is now being held at CoreCivic's Northeast Ohio Correctional Center in Youngstown.

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