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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: California | U.S. | Animal Liberation | Police State and Prisons
Activist Sentenced to 2.5 Years for Wire Cutters
California man receives 30 month sentence for possessing fur farm "burglary tools".
Kevin Olliff receives 30 month sentence for possessing fur farm "burglary tools".
Tuesday, Kevin Olliff accepted a plea deal and was sentenced to 2.5 years in Illinois prison. The only allegation against him was possessing tools the prosecution claimed were intended to be used to "burglarize" a fox farm.
With credit for time served, and Illinois' "half time" credit, Kevin is expected to be released in 10 months.
This is a significantly harsher sentence than the one received by co-defendant Tyler Lang, who received a sentence of time served and was released in November. It has been speculated Kevin's history of arrests for animal rights activity made him a more appetizing target for the prosecution, translating to a longer sentence (Kevin served time in California on "stalking" charges for his role in the successful campaign against POM Wonderful).
Tyler Lang and Kevin Olliff are two Los Angeles animal rights activists who were arrested in rural Illinois in August for “possession of burglary tools.” After a traffic stop in which they refused consent to a police search, their car was searched anyway. Inside, police allege they found bolt cutters, wire cutters, muriatic acid, ski masks, and cammo clothing. Prosecutor's allege the items found were intended to be used to target a nearby fur farm.
A case that moved from generic burglary to animal liberation
The case had numerous turns, including the prosecution claiming to have a neighbors surveillance footage from a mink farm raid that happened elsewhere in Illinois the night before his arrest (along with Tyler Lang).
While it was clear from day one the prosecution was using their history as animal rights activists against Tyler and Kevin, it wasn't until more recently this became explicit.
First, the prosecutor stated his intention to use the Morris, Illinois mink release (which occurred the night before their arrest) to build a circumstantial case that Kevin Olliff intended to use the items found in his car to target a fur farm.
Later, the prosecutor named a specific fur farm he believed Kevin and Tyler intended to target the night of their arrest.
In the end, the government made it explicit: They intended to try Kevin Olliff for a full-blown conspiracy to raid a fur farm.
Government desperate for an arrest
The last six months of 2013 saw 10 fur farm raids and not a single arrest. It's clear the government took a special interest in Kevin and Tyler in the absence of their ability to catch the ALF. Despite nearly all of the fur farm raids occurring after their arrest, the government appeared willing to settle for something symbolic (arresting animal rights activists at night in the rural Midwest) vs. actual success apprehending the Animal Liberation Front.
Transported to prison
Kevin was taken from Woodford County Jail almost immediately after his sentencing, and transferred to a reception facility in Joliet. He is expected to stay there for a month, before being transported to an actual prison. During this next month, his ability to make phone calls is limited, though he can receive (but not send) mail. His new address will be posted as soon as it is known.
What you can do
This outcome, while not ideal, would not have been possible without the legal maneuvering of Kevin's legal team, a group of hard working activist attorneys from Chicago (and one Woodford County attorney). Kevin's support fund is still badly overdrawn from legal fees, and several thousand more dollars are needed to pay the attorneys.
Please consider organizing a fundraiser for Kevin, or donating directly to his legal defense.
Check the Support Kevin & Tyler site for frequent updates, to donate, and all the latest.