Skip to comments.Judge rejects plea deal in mink release case (ALF-UT)
Posted on 11/12/2009 7:05:26 PM PST by jazusamo
U.S. District Judge Dee Benson on Thursday rejected a plea bargain that called for a Layton man to serve six months in prison for releasing hundreds of mink last year in support of animal rights.
Instead, Benson said he plans to sentence William James Viehl to at least two years behind bars and could go even higher. The law allows a maximum of five years imprisonment.
The judge said he generally deals leniently with offenders who have no criminal record. But he said Viehl's actions -- letting more than 600 mink out of their pens at the McMullin Fur Farm in South Jordan and spray-painting a barn with the words ALF (for Animal Liberation Front) and "We are watching" -- went beyond property damage.
"People who are engaged in a lawful enterprise are being terrorized by the actions of Mister Viehl," Benson said. "There's got to be some deterrent message sent."
Lindsey McMullin, who operates his family's farm, applauded Benson's decision. He said the attack had frightened his family and the fur industry.
"Domestic terrorism can't happen in our country," he said.
But Peter Young, who attended court Thursday along with other animal-rights activists, said Viehl's actions were an effort to save animals. Benson's proposed sentence "is in no way commensurate with the offense," said Young, who added that he served two years in prison in Wisconsin for carrying out mink releases at six farms in that state.
Prosecutors say Viehl and co-defendant Alex Hall released about 425 female mink and 225 male mink on Aug. 19, 2008, at the McMullin farm.
Lindsey McMullin said seven were killed by vehicles, seven died from stress and about 20 were never recovered. He said the two men also took the animals' pedigree tags, forcing the sale of the females for their pelts because they no longer could be bred and costing the farm $66,753.
Viehl and Hall were indicted last year on the felony interference count and a misdemeanor charge of attempting to damage the operations of the mink farm.
Viehl, 23, pleaded guilty to one count of damaging and interfering with animal enterprises. In a plea deal, the U.S. Attorney's Office agreed to recommend that he be given a term on the low end of the sentencing range for the crime. The range is determined after a guilty plea is entered and depends on a defendant's background and other factors.
Viehl said he now realizes he can support animal rights without breaking the law and apologized to the McMullin family on Thursday. He is being held in a jail until his case is resolved.
Charges are pending against Hall, 20, of Ogden, who has pleaded not guilty and is slated to go to trial Dec. 7
Good for U.S. District Judge Dee Benson.
A terrorist action, hang him.
That is strange. A federal judge with some common sense.
Agree, but there’s still some federal judges with it tho there scarce.
Go for the maximum
Give him the 5, Judge.
I live on a country road where there used to be lots of mink farms. (It’s all horsey-people, now).
Many years ago, the local PETA Phreaks would break into barns on a weekly basis to ‘release the mink!’
Most would end up dead in the road; their pelts worthless. The rest of them? Well, their ancestors are STILL breeding with the wild mink around here and raising havoc with our laying hens and other small livestock.
And they do the same around here with calves kept in veal pens. I mean, really. How productive is it to ‘release the calves’ so they, too, can wander to the road and die a horrible death at the hands of a Mom and her Kids in a mini van?
“Mommy! You just ran over a cute BABY COW! Aieeee! “
Get a grip, you ignorant BOOBS. Spend your ef-ing Trust Fund money in a more productive manner!
When people catch these SOBs on their property, especially in the act, they ought to just shoot these idiots and rid the world of one less anit-american, communist, grass-smokin’ vegetarian.
Oh NOW he realizes he can avoid breaking the law.
Deepest sincerity and all that.
Yep, the mink farms have been targets of these jerks for years. A good many of the mink die that they release so it’s hard to understand their reasoning but it’s plain they’re not reasonable.
Hope the judges start giving all of the jerks max sentences.
Judge Benson was nominated by President George H. W. Bush on May 16, 1991, and confirmed by the United States Senate on September 12, 1991.
LOL! It’s amazing how sorry criminals can be when facing years in a federal slammer.
6 months seems pretty light for $66K in damages. I hope the perp gets a nice sweaty cellmate, about 300 pounds.
>> When people catch these SOBs on their property, especially in the act, they ought to just shoot these idiots
Skin the perps alive. You know — for their pelts. Then throw the skinned carcass into the snow.
Six months is darn light, I’m glad this judge didn’t go for it.
better yet, put him in a cage with 600 hungry mink.
At the time this happened we talked about how devastating it is to the environment to release so many Mink.
I wish they would get serious about locking these criminals up for longer periods of time.
It’s almost like they treat it as adolescent mischief that does no harm, when in reality they cause massive amounts of damage and terror.
Actually, I am surprised that a few Montana rangers and folk of similar leanings haven’t gone to war against these cretins. It’s not as if they would be hard to find.
He should atleast serve a minimum of 4.5 years because if he was making minimum wage working a 40 hour week he’d have to work that long to pay the $66,753 back!
An animal rights activist ... named Viehl.
The irony is rich.
Montana? I would expect the problem to be taken care of locally, and let the coyotes, wolves, and vultures do the clean up.
“Aw, greenie, you should feel so bad about what’s next, you’re just being recycled into the natural habitat, being part of the circle of life””
Some of these ALF freaks advocate violence as a means to stop using animals in research centers.
Their spokesman is a physician in the Los Angeles area, Dr. Jerry Vlasak and he’s said violence is justifiable, try to figure that out.
There have been a couple close calls in CA that people could have been hurt or killed and since then the feds have been taking it more seriously. There’s some other cases in court now, I hope they really start cracking down.
>> An animal rights activist ... named Viehl.
His nickname is “Beef Kitten”.
Make Mink feed out of them...
It sure is! :-)
Damn straight. And that's what it is too. Too bad Officer Munley of Fort Hood wasn't around!
Thanks for the ping!
Note to criminals: Utah takes the Cosntitution rather more seriously than most other states.
Seems as Utah has lots of Mormons.
Mormons believe the Constitution was divinely inspired.
That ALFie is toastee.
Thanks for the laugh, I needed that.
With vermin its shoot, shovel and shut up.........at least on most farms......
IMHO, all domestic terrorists should be considered as the practioners of treason which they really are.
Then the question becomes injection of drugs, injection of lead, hanging, or the old, tried and true drawing and quartering?
There’s much to be said for that. It would only have to be done a time or two and domestic terrorists would once again just be lame protesters.
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