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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: U.S. | Animal Liberation | Education & Student Activism | Police State and Prisons
Scott DeMuth Agrees to Plea Bargain in Midwest "Animal Terrorism" Case
Tuesday was supposed to be the beginning of a lengthy Green Scare trial in Davenport, Iowa, seeking to find Scott DeMuth guilty of conspiracy to commit animal enterprise terrorism in relation to an Animal Liberation Front action at the University of Iowa. But on Monday afternoon in federal court, DeMuth agreed to a deal on a different charge--calling off the trial and leaving the FBI empty-handed on the 2004 animal experimentation facility raid.
Under the deal, DeMuth pled guilty to a misdemeanor conspiracy to commit animal enterprise terrorism charge regarding an animal liberation and vandalism at a Minnesota mink farm in 2006. The agreement calls for no more than six months imprisonment, to begin in January. He could have faced years in prison if convicted in the Iowa action, which caused significantly more economic damage. In this extremely conservative federal district, the court has sided with the prosecution over the motions of DeMuth's attorney Michael Deutsch at every turn.
After the prison sentence, DeMuth will be placed on supervised probation, but without electronic home monitoring or a fine. His plea does not implicate anyone else in the alleged conspiracy, and he will not have to testify against anyone.
The deal also means that Carrie Feldman, previously jailed on civil contempt in the case, and another person, Sonia Silvernail, are released from their subpoenas to the trial. The two would have been forced testify for the government or risk contempt charges.
On April 29th, 2006, anonymous activists cut holes in the fence, entered the breeder shed, and released hundreds of mink. ... The Fur Commission USA claimed after the raid that activists mistook ferrets for mink, and in fact the “mink farm” was actually a ferret farm. While there is evidence to suggest the farm is now a ferret farm, the location in Howard Lake was at one time called the Latzig Mink Ranch. The farm was the site of one of the first-ever mink releases in the U.S. in 1996, when 1,000 mink were liberated.
Hundreds of animals were also saved from torture and death via the raid on Spence Laboratories on November 14, 2004. It also left $450,000 in damages. A communique after that action said in part,
This was not thoughtless vandalism but a methodical effort to cripple the UI psychology department's animal research. Only equipment in rooms where animals were confined and tortured were targeted. Only computers belonging to or used in the work of vivisectors were destroyed. Only documents of animal researchers waere doused in acid. The acid a deliberately chosen paper dissolving agent. Our goal is total abolition of all animal exploitation. Achieved in the short term by delivering the 401 animals from UI's chamber of hell. And in the extended term by shutting down the labs through the erasing of research and equipment used in the barbaric practice of vivisection. The entire raid was a careful and deliberate 5-pronged assault on UI's animal research.
The raid and arson had been a coveted Green Scare case for the FBI, whose frustration at a lack of leads apparently led them to find the best target they could muster on shoddy evidence, much of it gained from an unrelated raid of DeMuth's home during the the 2008 Republican National Convention.