Skip to comments.Animal Rights Activist Strikes Deal (WI)
Posted on 09/01/2005 4:15:19 PM PDT by Diana in Wisconsin
(Man is accused of releasing mink in state)
An animal rights activist accused of freeing thousands of mink around the Midwest and dodging authorities for years has struck a deal with federal and state prosecutors to serve two years in prison.
Peter Daniel Young plans to plead guilty to two federal counts of animal enterprise terrorism on Friday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Bob Anderson said. Each count is punishable by up to a year in prison and Anderson said he'll ask a judge to sentence Young to the maximum two years.
Young also faces three state felony counts in Virginia in connection with obtaining a false identification card he used while he was on the run. Each count is punishable by up to five years in prison.
Assistant Commonwealth attorney LaBravia Jenkins said Virginia state prosecutors would drop two of the false ID counts in exchange for Young's guilty plea to one charge. They will recommend a one-year sentence, to be served simultaneously with his federal time, and a decade on probation.
"I think any more than two years would have been unreasonable. There really wasn't much harm done here," Young's attorney, Chris Kelly, said.
Alex Ott, owner of a mink farm near Tomahawk, Wis., that Young is accused of raiding, scoffed at that, saying the raid terrified his family.
"Let something like that happen to his family and let him say not much damage was done," Ott said.
Federal investigators believe Young is part of the Animal Liberation Front, a radical group that aims to destroy animal industries it considers inhumane. Prosecutors believe Young, 28, of Mercer Island, Wash., and accomplice Justin Samuel broke onto mink farms in Iowa, South Dakota and Wisconsin in 1997 and freed around 7,000 mink.
Both Young and Samuel were indicted in Madison in 1998 on four extortion charges and the two animal enterprise counts. They each would have faced 82 years in prison had they been convicted on all six counts.
Both of them disappeared after the indictment came down.
Authorities captured Samuel in Belgium in 1999. He struck a deal with prosecutors similar to Young's and served two years in prison. Young remained at large until this past March, when police arrested him for trying to shoplift CDs from a Starbucks in San Jose, Calif.
Investigators believe animal rights activists on the West Coast sheltered Young while he was on the run. Jenkins said Young had amassed false IDs from around the country.
Young's case took a huge turn this past July when prosecutors dropped the four extortion counts. They decided a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2003, while Young was on the run, nullified the legal basis for those charges. According to the ruling, someone must physically take something from someone else to justify an extortion charge. That didn't happen in the mink farm raids, prosecutors concluded.
FBI officials have said they consider groups like ALF the top domestic terrorist threat the United States faces. Kelly said the government went overboard with the original charges, trying to paint Young as a terrorist. "Calmer heads have since prevailed," he said.
But Anderson said the Supreme Court ruling deflated their case.
"It took away the biggest gun we had," Anderson said.
Anderson said he wouldn't bring additional charges in connection with Young's flight. Typically, someone has to appear in court and then flee to be charged, and Young never appeared before he was arrested.
Animal rights activists, who have flocked to Madison for Young's court appearances, sent out an anonymous e-mail after word broke of the plea deal to thank Young for his "selfless acts." He saved thousands of mink from being "brutally murdered," the message said.
"We feel like it could have been a lot worse," said Lindsay Parme, who moved to Madison from Santa Cruz, Calif., to support Young. "It's always sad when somebody who cares about animals has to spend any time in prison."
Yeah! Who's going to take care of this Animal Rights Terrorist's DOG while he's in prison?
Awe, Man! I'm laughin' so hard, the TEARS are flowing! LOL!
Well, it's a start. This doorknob should be out of circulation for a good ten years. Fingers crossed!
police arrested him for trying to shoplift CDs from a Starbucks in San Jose, Calif.
Giving them their freedom?
LOL! "Free the CDs! Free the CDs!" :)
Hope his cellmate says 'bark like a dog!'
Maybe if he loves animals so much he can live like one. And if he's not adopted in 10 days.....