Published On: Wed, Feb 17th, 2021

Benjamin Cody Long dismissed of felony charges in cyberattack case

 

By JONAH LOSSIAH

ONE FEATHER STAFF 

 

Tribal prosecutors of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) have dismissed both felony charges against Benjamin Cody Long. 

Long was arraigned and detained in December 2019 following a cyberattack on the tribal network. This attack shut down most tribal operations for several months, leading to a lengthy and postponement-heavy trial. 

The week following the attack, tribal prosecutors brought forth two felony charges against Long, as well as seven other charges in January 2020.  

On Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021, those felony charges were dismissed including 19 CR 4505 Felony Tampering with Public Records (In violation of Section 14-70.12(a)(3)) and 19 CR 4606 Felony Obstructing Government Functions (In violation of Section 14-70.14 (a)(2)).  

“After investigation and speaking with the experts for the Tribe, the Tribe is in a position that it must take a voluntary dismissal of these two charges at this time after an investigation,” said Cody White of the EBCI Tribal prosecutor’s office. 

This hearing was added to the Tribal Court docket on the day of the decision. It was heard by Judge Sharon Barrett and lasted only six minutes. 

“The Tribe has put this on here because this is a court of record. And, we wanted to make sure that not only is this done as a paper record but was also done in a public form on the record,” said White.

It was confirmed that Long would still have at least one more hearing on Thursday, Feb. 25 to address the seven other charges. These are 20 CR 0464 through 20 CR 0470, seven counts of misusing Tribal money or property (In violation of Section 14-70.42 (c)(1)). 

It was decided that Long would remain in detention without bond following a hearing on Dec. 11, 2019. This decision was maintained for more than six months before Long was eventually allowed to move into house arrest following a decision on May 28, 2020. 

Long was listening in on this latest hearing via telephone but did not make a statement. 

The defending attorney, Brent Smith, offered just one move at Wednesday’s hearing. 

“It would be our motion at this time that court allow to preserve the files in 19 CR 2405 through 2406. We would ask that they not be destroyed, tampered with, or otherwise manipulated. We do believe they potentially will come into play with the pending charges. Possibly there are a substantial amount of documents that have been filed in the dismiss charges that also relate to the pending charges,” said Smith. 

Tribal prosecutors had no opposition to this motion, though Judge Barrett requested that Smith submit a written request for the move. 

The Cherokee One Feather will release more information as provided and will be attending the Feb. 25 hearing of Benjamin Cody Long. 

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