[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

Background

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 
government’s 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 
(Thurston’s 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).

Updates

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 
Tubb’s 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 
charges—none of them pled to the destructive 
device charge used as a hammer by the feds in 
coercing these people to become informants. The 
US attorney’s 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 Stan’s 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 prosecution’s “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 
government’s terms. They all agreed to testify 
against others charged in the case and to 
cooperate with the government’s 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 it’s 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 Jake’s 
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 jury’s 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, 
Jonathan’s 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 
government’s response to his motion spends the 
majority of it’s 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.

The Latest

On August 7, Nathan and Joyanna were present for 
a status hearing on the upcoming trial. Also in 
attendance were Daniel’s lawyers, as well as 
Jonathan’s 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 
attorney’s 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 Daniel’s 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 Jonathan’s attorney made suggestions about 
ways in which copies of this discovery could be 
given to defendants to make duplication 
impossible. The US attorney’s 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.

Support Information

To stay informed about the latest goings on 
related to the Green Scare, visit cldc.org, 
http://portland.indymedia.org/en/topic/greenscare/ 
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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