Skip to comments.Final Operation Backfire arson suspect sentenced (Paul)
Posted on 08/01/2007 12:21:59 PM PDT by jazusamo
11:14 AM, Wednesday, August 1, 2007
A federal judge on Wednesday reimposed a sentence of four years and three months on Jonathon Christopher Mark Paul, the last of 10 defendants indicted in Eugene for arson in environmental causes.
Pauls lawyer had challenged the sentence after a hearing June 5. Paul, a widely known environmental activists from Southern Oregon, again renounced arson as an activist tactic in a statement in court on Wednesday.
U.S. District Judge Anne Aiken rebuffed four legal challenges to the sentence and required Paul to read the book Three Cups of Tea and to write a book report to her before reporting to prison on Oct. 1.
Read more in tomorrows Register-Guard.
Stanislas Gregory Meyerhoff - (5-23-07) - 13 years
Kevin Tubbs ----------------- (5-24-07) - 12 years, 7 months
Chelsea Dawn Gerlach ------- (5-25-07) - 9 years
Darren Todd Thurston---------(5-29-07) - 3 years, 1 month
Suzanne Nicole Savoie--------(5-31-07) - 4 years, 3 months
Sarah Kendall Tankersley-----(5-31-07) - 3 years, 10 months
Joyanna Lynn Zacher---------(6-01-07) - 7 years, 8 months
Nathan Fraser Block----------(6-01-07) - 7 years, 8 months
Daniel Gerard McGowan-----(6-04-07) - 7 years
Jonathan Paul-----------------(8-01-07) - 4 years, 3 months
An older article in the Eugene Weekly News with pics and some background.
Gee, why don't I believe him???
The a-hole will likely only do 18-months at the most. Oh well, his name is now out there for everyone to know.
An interesting book by a (failed) climber of K2.
I don’t believe him either but the good thing is he was sentenced in a federal court and he’s going to serve that sentence.
It’s a federal bid. He will serve his time.
Good article...lots of information.
Good! Thanks; knowing that, I will not be grinding my teeth the rest of the afternoon.
I personally hope that he becomes somebody’s bitch before the end of the day.
Thanks for the good news. The judge sounds firm and has a sense of humor re his assignments from her.
Thanks for the ping.
It is federal time, but a longer term would have been nice.
Any news on civil lawsuits ?
Haven’t heard anything about civil suits and have been watching. I believe he agreed to some kind of restitution on the wild horse corral arson so that would preclude a suit on that I suppose.
Yes, I had to chuckle when I read about the book report. :-)
Any news on community service or monitoring after he gets out ?
These guys will still be young when they get out.
There is no parole in the Federal system. He'll do every single day.
And that is a good thing.
Hopefully this writer will cover that in tomorrows article.
I don’t know if people sentenced in federal courts are subject to that after serving out their whole sentences.
The part of this that truly annoyed me was that the judge decided to give him a “creative” sentence. Being punished is one thing, but there should be strict limitations on what a judge can prescribe as whimsical punishments.
In some cases, judges are insisting that individuals renounce their civil rights far and away, above and beyond any reasonable punishment. I have heard instances where judges demanded renunciation of religion, philosophy, the right to speak in public, the right to free association with others not convicted of crimes, etc., ad nauseum. Even if there was no direct connection to the crime. That is, the judge just doesn’t like it so feels that he can order them to stop while he has them under his control.
Often judges impose sentences of public humiliation and self-criticism that hearken back both to US colonial days and to weird expressions of totalitarianism found in other countries, such as communist Chinese self-criticism.
Regularly judges impose sentences on individuals who have steadfastly claimed innocence throughout their trials that demanded that, when found guilty, they must confess their crime in such a way to incriminate themselves after the fact. And failure to do so, for instance if they actually were innocent and have no idea how the crime was committed, results in a harsher sentence.
Such whimsical liberty with the law severely damages its credibility.
It also cuts across both criminal and civil law.
In final sentencing, judge upholds defendant's term
By Bill Bishop
Published: Thursday, August 2, 2007
A federal judge on Wednesday reimposed a four-year, three-month prison sentence on Jonathan Christopher Mark Paul, a longtime leader in the radical environmental movement and the last of 10 defendants indicted and sentenced in Eugene for conspiracy to commit arson to promote their views.
Paul's lawyer, Marc Blackman of Portland, disputed the sentence during a June 5 hearing, claiming the judge lacked authority or failed to follow the law to set the prison term. U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken set Wednesday's hearing to settle the matter. She ultimately refuted Blackman's objections and let her sentence stand.
Additionally, Aiken ordered Paul to read the best-selling book "Three Cups of Tea," and to write a book review for her before reporting to prison on Oct. 1. The book is a true account of Greg Mortenson's effort to combat terrorism by building 55 schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Aiken also read a lengthy letter she received from Paul's co-defendant Stanislas Meyerhoff, who is serving a 13-year prison term - the longest meted to any in the conspiracy. Meyerhoff has repeatedly renounced violence, cooperated with authorities and pledged to work peacefully to help others and improve society. Meyerhoff's letter recounted his work teaching Spanish and English to fellow inmates.
Paul also has publicly renounced arson as a means to end animal suffering and environmental exploitation. He refused to name others in the conspiracy when he signed a plea deal to settle his case.
In court, Aiken challenged him to "walk the walk," and prove through his actions in prison and after his release that his stated commitment to nonviolence is true. She told Paul on Wednesday that Meyerhoff's letter and Mortenson's book are meant to inspire him to find his own ways of coming back into the community.
"Sentences have to be about giving people a chance to be held accountable by society and yet come back and be productive," Aiken told him. "I read that (Meyerhoff's letter) because he is walking a path you say you'll walk. And I expect the same."
Aiken has taken time during each of the 10 sentencing hearings to offer similar guidance tailored to each of the defendants in the conspiracy. She compared Paul's inherited wealth, intelligence, education and family support with the relative poverty and social obstacles Mortenson overcame to build schools in Asia.
"You can do far better than what you did," she told Paul.
In a public statement after court, Paul, 41, urged fellow activists to reject arson as a weapon in their fight.
In earlier statements he said he rejected arson after helping burn down the Cavel West horse meat packing plant in Redmond in 1997. He became a volunteer firefighter/medical technician and went on more than 2,000 calls in Southern Oregon - once treating a man whom he knew was a bear poacher, another time rescuing a three-week-old kitten on a highway.
On Wednesday he said arson defiles the belief that all life is sacred and violates the tenet of nonviolence embraced by the environmental movement. Even though no one has been injured in 25 years since the underground groups Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front first employed arson, Paul said fire can change that record in an instant and the risk is not acceptable.
Paul declined to take questions.
Blackman vowed to appeal Paul's sentence.
His objections involve the complex federal sentencing guidelines, court rulings that guide their application, the agreement among parties in the case to use guidelines that were in effect in 2000, and Paul's plea bargain.
Aiken meticulously addressed each of Blackman's claims, reciting her reasoning and citing court rulings behind her decisions.
She said she uniformly imposed the federal terrorism law in arsons clearly aimed at affecting or punishing government conduct. She noted she used her judicial power to impose a similarly longer sentence for arsons aimed at private individuals or companies, saying there is no practical difference between the two crimes when the motives are the same.
Aiken also said she gave great weight to plea deals hammered out between prosecutors and defense lawyers for all defendants, granting much lower sentences than called for. She reminded Paul that he could have gotten up to 10 years for his single crime.
As it turned out, Aiken gave Paul six months less than called for in his plea deal. Blackman sought a term of just over three years. Others in the conspiracy faced life terms because they were involved in many more arsons.
"The court is not treating Mr. Paul more severely than ... any other of the co-conspirators. Indeed, I am treating him the same," Aiken told Blackman.
Wednesday's hearing closes the major cases resulting from Operation Backfire, the name given the sweeping investigation of 20 arson crimes in five states over a five-year period that did well over $20 million in property damage.
One conspirator has a hearing Friday to challenge her sentence. Two relatively minor participants face sentencing in federal court in Washington state, where another is scheduled for trial next month. Four others remain fugitives.
The sentencing of Jacob Jeremiah Ferguson, a major participant whose cooperation led to the conspiracy's downfall, has not be scheduled. His plea deal reportedly is for probation and no jail time.
Paul got off easy compared to Meyerhoff. Paul did not name fellow perps, thus should have gotten more time for failure to cooperate.
Paul and his money will be back soon.
Hopefully there will be an active tracking system like registering with local police.
Thanks for the update. The more I read about U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken, the more that I am impressed.
We need a lot of district judges like this lady.
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