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DA drops charges against 2 men in G-20 summit case

| Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2009

A federal investigation spurred Allegheny County prosecutors Monday to withdraw criminal charges against two New York men accused of using cell phones and the Internet messaging service Twitter to direct the movement of protesters during the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh.

Police arrested Elliot M. Madison, 41, and Michael Wallschlaeger, 46, both of Jackson Heights, N.Y., after finding them Sept. 24 in a Kennedy hotel room with computers, police scanners and Pittsburgh-area maps, according to a state police criminal complaint.

Prosecutors withdrew the charges when an attorney for the men asked Common Pleas Judge David R. Cashman to unseal police affidavits that backed search warrants used in their case. Cashman sealed the warrants used to search the second-floor room at the Carefree Inn on Kisow Drive, attorneys said.

"There was no crime here in Pennsylvania. The alleged activity was within the First Amendment," said Claudia Davidson, an attorney representing both men. "My instinct tells me there's (another) investigation going on. I think the DA's office made that clear today."

Bob Nardoza, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York, confirmed the case is ongoing.

"It's an active investigation, and beyond that and what's in the public filings, I can't say more," Nardoza said.

Mike Manko, spokesman for District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr., released a statement saying the charges were withdrawn until a further investigation can be completed.

"There appears to be sufficient evidence to suggest that certain acts that occurred during the G-20 summit were not isolated incidents confined to Allegheny County, but instead may have been related to more expansive activities that went beyond the Pittsburgh G-20," according to the statement.

Madison and Wallschlaeger faced charges of hindering apprehension or prosecution, criminal use of a communication facility and possessing instruments of crime.

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