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U.S. | Animal Liberation

BJ Viehl on Recent Guilty Plea in Utah Mink Liberation Case
by animal liberation press office
Tuesday Sep 8th, 2009 5:11 PM
A 23-year-old Layton man who was charged with damaging and interfering with animal enterprises after he and another man were accused of raiding local mink farms pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to one of the raids. William James Viehl was indicted on two counts of damaging and interfering with the operations of an animal enterprise in March after he and Ogden resident Alex Jason Hall, 21, raided one mink farm in South Jordan and attempted a second raid on a similar farm in Heber, said U.S. Attorney spokeswoman Melodie Rydalch.
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September 8, 2009
Layton activist pleads guilty to mink-farm raid

By Emiley Morgan
Published: Thursday, Sept. 3, 2009 11:09 p.m. MDT
Deseret News (Utah)

A 23-year-old Layton man who was charged with damaging and interfering with animal enterprises after he and another man were accused of raiding local mink farms pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to one of the raids. William James Viehl was indicted on two counts of damaging and interfering with the operations of an animal enterprise in March after he and Ogden resident Alex Jason Hall, 21, raided one mink farm in South Jordan and attempted a second raid on a similar farm in Heber, said U.S. Attorney spokeswoman Melodie Rydalch.


The raid to which Viehl pleaded guilty took place at the McMullin mink farm in South Jordan in August 2008. Rydalch said the raid consisted of releasing minks and spray-painting parts of the farm, including a barn. She said the plea agreement "stated the damage and loss to real and personal property at the farm exceeded $10,000."

In a statement released Thursday, U.S. Attorney Brett Tolman said that while the government respects the beliefs and opinions of activist groups, prosecutors will take "aggressive action" when it comes to criminal actions.

"Regardless of your opinion, the fur industry is lawful and provides income for many Utah families. The law protects them, plain and simple. We all rely on the rule of law to protect us, our opinions and our lawful ventures. Criminal acts targeting businesses in the dark of night are not going to be tolerated in our communities," Tolman said.

The Animal Liberation Front said it was responsible for the August raid, suggesting that the two men indicted for that raid may be animal-rights activists associated with that group.

Viehl and Hall both originally pleaded not guilty to the charges, and Hall's case is currently ongoing. Sentencing in Viehl's case is scheduled for Nov. 12.




Statement by BJ Viehl on Recent Guilty Plea
ELP Extra

Greetings everyone! Thanks to all who have shown love and support throughout mine, and Alex's incarceration. We hope you all understand how much appreciation, and love we both have for all of our supporters. apart from my thanks, I felt it would be a good time for an update on my case. these last few months have been intense. With the help of my lawyers, we have litigated and motives to suppress "evidence", and motioned for dismissal based on lack of jurisdiction. Despite our attempts we were not successful. After playing all the cards I was dealt, and becoming aware of circumstances out of my control, I realized the best plan of action would be to change my plea to guilty. If this case was in a different state or district, chances at trial would be much more in my favor. Unfortunately that is not the case.

Utah is a very conservative and religiously controlled state, and cases like mine are almost always guilty until proven innocent. Having a politically and religiously biased jury deciding my fate will not be of my best interest. The change of plea hearing will be on September 2nd, 2009. and will basically consist of me admitting guilt and accepting responsibility. This, however, WILL NOT affect Alex negatively in any way. Whatever Alex chooses to do with his case, he will have my love and respect. I realized I am no help to the AR community sitting in jail. I can't wait to get out and do lots of volunteer work at our local animal sanctuary "Ching Farm" and I cant wait to see a bunch of my supporters face to face. I also plan on doing a lot more public outreach, and educating the masses on the atrocities that innocent lives go through in the factory farm industries, along with the truths of the devastating effects to the environment that follow.

Regarding my imprisonment, I don't want people to worry. I will respectfully serve whatever sentence the court gives me. Along with that and accepting responsibility, I am in no way cooperating or testifying about any other activists. It is strictly me, myself, and I, admitting guilt. Sentencing for my case will follow about 70 days after the change of plea. Based on federal sentencing guidelines, I will hopefully be a free man March 2010. Once again, I want to thank all of our supporters, and give you the most love and respect. I'm so proud to be apart of such a strong community. The amount of love and support strangers give to one
another is almost overwhelming. Please don't stop your support for the AETA 4 and Alex, it is very much needed.

Every one of you, are the hope for the future regarding the welfare of all living creatures on this planet. For the environment and for the animals.

In Solidarity,
BJ


For more information visit, http://www.animalliberationpressoffice.org/prisoners.htm

Animal Liberation Press Office
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