[Ppnews] Green Scare article from Earth First! Journal
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Sep 21 15:52:56 EDT 2006
Six People Plead Guilty to Arsons and Conspiracy
The Green Scare Continues
by Civil Rights Outreach Committee
On December 7, 2005, one of the largest roundups
of environmental and animal liberation activists
in American history began. Using the code name
Operation Backfire, the FBI arrested six
people. (See EF!J issues Brigid, Eostar and
Beltane 2006 for more background information.)
Chelsea Gerlach, William Rodgers, Kendall
Tankersley, Kevin Tubbs, Daniel McGowan and
Stanislas Meyerhoff were arrested for allegedly
taking part in a wide variety of actions the
government attributes to the Earth Liberation
Front (ELF) and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF).
Within days of the first arrests, it was revealed
that informants, including Jacob Jake Ferguson
of Eugene, were the sole basis relied upon by the
feds and grand jury in issuing the indictments.
It was also revealed that Stanislas Meyerhoff had
agreed to be a federal cooperating witness almost
immediately upon arrest and interrogation.
On December 22, William Avalon Rodgers was
found dead in his cell in Flagstaff, Arizona, from an apparent suicide.
At first, those arrested were indicted separately
with certain individuals facing numerous trials
for each separate alleged incident. On January
20, federal prosecutors, the head of the FBI, and
US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales held a press
conference announcing a sweeping 65-count
indictment, including two conspiracy charges,
against 11 individuals relating to 17 different
incidents in Oregon, Washington and California.
In addition to the six people arrested on
December 7, the Oregon indictment also named
Jonathan Paul, Suzanne Savoie, Joseph Joe
Dibee, Rebecca Rubin and Josephine Sunshine Overaker.
The Oregon indictment charged certain defendants
with arson, attempted arson, and using and
carrying a destructive device. The destructive
device charge, 18 USC 924(c), carries a 30-year
mandatory sentence and a life sentence for a second conviction of the charge.
In the weeks that followed, five individuals were
revealed as confidential sources for the
governments case. Subsequently, on February 23,
Nathan Block and Joyanna Zacher were arrested in
Olympia and were charged with involvement in the
2001 Jefferson Poplar and Romania II arsons.
On March 15, the government released a
superseding indictment that replaced all
preexisting indictments. This giant conspiracy
prosecution included Nathan and Joyanna with the other 11 indicted individuals.
On March 30, Briana Waters was arrested in
connection with an alleged arson at the
University of Washington Center for Urban
Horticulture in 2001 and placed under house
arrest. She is currently indicted in both Tacoma
and Seattle for the same alleged crimes. Her
trial is scheduled for May 7, 2007. She staunchly
maintains her innocence to the charges and was
recently released from house arrest.
On April 6, California issued its indictments in
connection with the 2001 horse corral fire near
Susanville. Justin Solondz was charged by the
federal court in Sacramento, but is not in
custody. Also indicted for the corral fire were
Joe Dibee, Rebecca Rubin and Darren Thurston
(Thurstons plea on this charge was integrated
into his Oregon plea deal as a result of
cooperation, the extent of which is not publicly
known at this time, see below).
On May 10, Washington issued a superseding
indictment. This indictment includes the
destructive device charge, a 30-year mandatory
sentence, for Waters. The indictment also added
Solondz, Tubbs and Rodgers to the UW arson.
Washington has agreed to waive prosecution of
Tubbs as a result of his cooperation with the
federal government. Other informants in this case
include Jennifer Jen Kolar and ex-Earth First!
Journal editor Lacey Phillabaum, both of who walk
free as uncharged co-conspirators as of this writing.
On May 18, a federal grand jury indicted Chelsea,
Stan, Josephine and Rebecca for alleged
involvement in the 1998 arson of the Vail ski resort.
On June 28, the government arraigned Nathan,
Joyanna, Daniel and Jonathan on a new 65-count
superceding indictment. All four plead
not-guilty. Trial for the four remaining
non-cooperating defendants is currently scheduled
to begin on October 31 in Eugene.
Plea Deals Aplenty
Without any notice to the codefendants or the
public, on July 20 and 21, formal change of plea
hearings were held in the Oregon court for
Darren, Kevin, Kendall, Stan, Chelsea and
Suzanne. These six pled guilty to a variety of
conspiracy, arson and attempted arson
chargesnone of them pled to the destructive
device charge used as a hammer by the feds in
coercing these people to become informants. The
US attorneys office recommended sentence for
Stan is 188 months imprisonment for pleading
guilty to 54 charges; Kevin, 168 months for 56
charges; Chelsea, 120 months for 18; Suzanne, 63
months for 15; Kendall, 51 months for three; and Darren, 37 months for two.
When he entered the courtroom, Stan waved and
smiled at the federal prosecutors. They returned
the smile and the wave. Stan, who displayed what
appeared to be mental instability during the
proceeding, was keen to point out that he walked
away from the ELF in 2003, as he mentioned
during what was supposed to be an account of his
educational history. The above terms of
imprisonment are recommendations that the feds
will make to the Court at the time of sentencing
and are contingent upon these cooperating
defendants continued full and complete
cooperation for the rest of their lives. This
term applies to ALL of the defendants who have pled out so far.
During this hearing, the government seemed
especially keen on connecting the ELF and the ALF
to broader environmental efforts and movements.
The state stressed that Stan and other defendants
allegedly attended an Earth First! party directly
after performing a sabotage, and also that the
Vail arson followed unsuccessful litigation and
grassroots campaigns against ski resort
development in the area. The government also made
a point of stressing that these defendants used
the term direct action in reference to the
arson incidents. Heavy mention of William Rogers
(Avalon) was made in connection to the Vail arson
during both Chelsea and Stans hearings. They
both swore in court that William was solely responsible for the Vail arson.
At the behest of the federal government, Chelsea
read a statement at the conclusion of her change
of plea proceeding denouncing her actions.
For the first time, new allegations were
disclosed at the change of plea hearings
disclosing additional arsons that allegedly
occurred in Phoenix, Arizona, and the eastern district of Michigan
Upon motion by the cooperating defendants
attorneys, all of the plea petitions, cooperation
agreements, and even the transcripts of the
public court hearing for all six, are sealed,
making them unavailable for public scrutiny. The
government announced that it would pursue upward
enhancement of sentences for the six taking
pleas, arguing that the federal terrorism
enhancement guidelines apply to their sentences
as well. This enhancement, normally only utilized
in cases where human lives were lost in incidents
such as 9/11, carries up to an additional 30 year
sentence. The government indicated that the
defendants were free to argue against the
terrorism enhancement, however, it would appear
that all of the defendants who entered pleas in
July stipulated to the prosecutions facts
underlying the plea petition. These facts
included the verbatim definition of a federal
crime of terrorism, thereby reducing the amount
of work the feds will have to do to convice a
judge that the enhancement applies. The
definition of terrorism read in open court by the
prosecutors is: A crime calculated to influence
or affect the conduct of government by
intimidation or coercion, or to retaliate against
government conduct. Under this broad definition,
historic acts of nonviolent civil disobedience
could be construed as terrorism. It is confusing
and troubling that these defendants would permit
the feds to potentially brand them with this over-used and inappropriate label.
All remaining charges for those taking
cooperation pleas, in Oregon and other
jurisdictions, will be dropped if those taking
pleas fully and completely cooperate with the
governments terms. They all agreed to testify
against others charged in the case and to
cooperate with the governments ongoing investigation into similar crimes.
All six of the cooperating defendants are
scheduled for formal sentencing hearings on December 14.
Lacey is expected to enter a plea in Seattle in
exchange for her cooperation. It is unclear which
of the many jurisdictions informant Jen will plea
in as a result of her extensive cooperation with
the feds. Numerous other people have been
contacted and have voluntarily agreed to provide
information to the federal government about these
cases, their political ideologies and their associations,
Suzanne, Kendall, Daniel, Jonathan and Briana are
all out on pre-trial release. McGowan is under
strict house arrest. All other persons indicted
in Oregon who have been located, are currently in custody.
Nathan, Joyanna, Daniel, Jonathan and Briana now
face trial with several of their once
co-defendants preparing to offer up dubious
testimony against them, while the government
raises the specter of terrorism over alleged
property damage allegations in defense of the
environment. Nathan, Joyanna and Daniel, face
charges that carry a 30-year mandatory minimum
sentence, and maximums of life plus 300 to 1,015
years. All remaining defendants also face a
terrorism enhancement under federal sentencing
guidelines which carries a maximum 30 year sentence.
Without the information provided by Jake,
uncharged informants such as Jen and Lacey, as
well as the parroted statements made by the
cooperating defendants thus far, there would be
no federal case. Jake and Stan have admitted to
their participation in most of the alleged
arsons, yet Jake remains free and without charges
(and according to a Rolling Stone article,
$50,000 richer). To date, no other hard evidence
exists linking the defendants to the alleged
charges. The snitch statements all vastly
contradict each other and have changed and
evolved as the government changes its story.
These informants will face cross examination at
trial and vast amounts of resources are being
utilized in defense of those defendants who
continue to assert their innocence before a jury of their peers.
Misuse of Grand Juries
On March 21, Camilo Stephenson was subpoenaed to
a Denver grand jury and questioned about the 1998
Vail ski resort fire. Jake Ferguson told the feds
that Camillo would substantiate his story that
attempted to rope in additional people. Camillo
denied any knowledge of any of the incidents and
was able to inform the jury as to Jakes
reputation as a drug addict, thief, and untrustworthy individual.
Jeff Hogg and Burke Morris were subpoenaed to
testify in front of federal grand juries on May
18, Jeff in Eugene and Burke in Denver. Jeff
refused to testify before the grand jury and was
held in contempt by Judge Michael Hogan and sent
to jail. Jeff is still in and could remain in
jail until the grand jurys expiration. (Write to
Jeff Hogg #1065518, 101 W. 5th Ave., Eugene, OR
97401.) Burke answered limited questions asked by
the Denver grand jury, questions about his
personal life, but denied any knowledge of the
incidents about which he was questioned. Burke
also ended up in this position as a result of
Jake Ferguson trying to use him to corroborate
untruthful statements that Jake made to the feds.
On June 27, Jim Dawson of Olympia received a
subpoena to appear before a grand jury in
Seattle. His appearance has been postponed since
he consented to be questioned by the FBI in lieu
of his scheduled grand jury appearance. His
partner, Heather Moore, also of Olympia, had
earlier agreed to be voluntarily questioned by
the feds regarding her community. The extent of
their disclosures to the government is unknown at
this time. As a result of their voluntary
cooperation, additional subpoenas are possible.
The fact that the feds are continuing to subpoena
people would normally lead one to believe that
the government continues to search for additional
defendants in these cases it is either that, or
a grave abuse of the grand jury system at work.
In the Oregon court hearing on June 28,
Jonathans attorney told the court that he was
putting the government on notice that he was
deeply concerned with the unlawful abuses of the
grand jury system by the government. Grand juries
are intended only to decide whether or not to
bring indictments. In this case grand juries are
being used to gather evidence to prepare for
trial, an illegal use of the grand jury.
Craig Rosebraugh is subpoenaed to testify before
the grand jury in Eugene August 17.
Jeff Hogg is scheduled for a Grumbles hearing on
August 15th seeking his release from jail. He
continues to argue that no amount of jail will
coerce him into testifying to the grand jury
based upon his strongly held beliefs. The
governments response to his motion spends the
majority of its pages attempting to malign the
Civil Liberties Defense Center and its attorney,
somehow inferring that the public education
events that the CLDC provides on grand juries and
federal criminal prosecutions is attempting to
obstruct justice. Apparently the feds now believe
that free speech and an educated public are the
latest threats to their police state and campaign of political repression.
On August 7, Nathan and Joyanna were present for
a status hearing on the upcoming trial. Also in
attendance were Daniels lawyers, as well as
Jonathans via phone. The first order of business
was a continuance for the upcoming discovery
hearing in which defendants attorneys will ask
for the court to order the release of
surveillance evidence in discovery. The US
attorneys office has been dancing around the
release of this surveillance, which could go back
many years. (What do they have to hide?
Unwarranted wiretaps? Agents provacatuers? We'll see...)
That hearing was postponed until August 22nd at
9:30 a.m. with a possible continuance to
September 6 at 10;30 am. due to a possible
conflict of scheduling with one of the defense attorneys.
Next, one of Daniels lawyers requested that
discovery released to defense last week be
viewable by defendants without a lawyer present.
There is currently an order in place that only
allows the defendants to view this discovery (the
testimony of cooperating defendants) in the
presence of their lawyers. The US attorney, Kirk
Engdall, said the order is in place because the
discussion or distribution of this discovery
could intensify the security risk of
cooperating defendants. A discussion ensued in
which Jonathans attorney made suggestions about
ways in which copies of this discovery could be
given to defendants to make duplication
impossible. The US attorneys office did not feel
any of the suggestions would ensure the security
of the documents. Engdall asked that a decision
on the issue be delayed until both sides could
agree on a way to protect the confidentiality of
the discovery. A date was set, August 22 at 9:30
am, for a hearing on the issue.
Then Engdall proposed a date be set for motion to
continue the trial to a later date, since the US
attorney's office would need time to subpoena
witnesses from five federal districts to testify
at trial. He stated it seemed all parties would
want an extension of the original October 31
trial date. That issue will also be heard on August 22.
The government continues to monitor and
scrutinize on-line sources such as indy media
sites. Many of the court filings include
voluminous pages printed from the internet
comment sections, personal email communications,
and other documents that make it obvious that the
government continues to spy on political groups
and their activities. There is nothing illegal
about doing prisoner support or discussing
current events, but the fed continue to
manipulate and misconstrue these communications
to their own benefit. Please think of this before
you write and post on the internet.
To stay informed about the latest goings on
related to the Green Scare, visit cldc.org,
and future issues of the EF!J.
Don't forget to write to and support the
non-cooperating defendants and talk to your
friends and neighbors about the Green Scare cases.
If anyone has information they are willing to
share on any of the cooperating witnesses,
background, history, etc., to help in the defense
of the non-cooperating defendants, please contact
attorney Lauren Regan at lregan at cldc.org. Your
opinion or anecdote could save a brave person many years in jail.
The Civil Rights Outreach Committee (CROC) is a
media working group that has taken on the task of
monitoring the mainstream press surrounding the
Green Scare, producing our own pro-active media,
and assisting the defendants in their attempt to
get a fair trial through outreach to media
outlets, NGOs and members of the public. To
contact CROC or to make a donation to our work,
write to civilrightsoutreach at gmail.com.
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Earth First! Journal, PO Box 3023, Tucson, AZ 85702, USA
(520) 620-6900; collective at earthfirstjournal.org
The Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
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