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green scare | prisons & prisoners

“Green Scare:” Report from Friday’s Plea Deal Hearings for Meyerhoff, Gerlach and Savoie

Yesterday, Friday July 21, at the US District Court in Eugene, Stanislas Meyerhoff, Chelsea Gerlach and Suzanne Savoie pled guilty to a number of charges. As with the pleas entered yesterday by Darren Thurston, Kevin Tubbs and Kendall Tankersley, the actual terms of the plea agreements and cooperation agreements entered today are "sealed," which means that members of the public are not being allowed to view them. In addition, the transcripts of today's hearings for the three are also under seal.
Stanislas Meyerhoff pled guilty to 54 counts from the District of Oregon indictment, plus eight charges from Colorado, which were transferred to the District of Oregon. The Oregon counts involve conspiracy, destruction of a federal energy facility, plus a number of arsons and attempted arsons—Childer's Meat, Boise Cascade, a Eugene Police Department Public Safety Station, Superior Lumber Company, Romania Chevrolet Truck Center (counts 7-41) and Jefferson Poplar (42-54). The transferred Colorado charges involve the 1998 arson against ski resort expansion in Vail. During this hearing, the government seemed especially keen on connecting the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front to broader environmental efforts and movements; the state stressed that Meyerhoff and other defendants allegedly attended an Earth First! party directly after performing 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 (again attempting to make hyperbolic inferences). Meyerhoff, who displayed what appeared to be mental instability during the proceeding, was keen to point out that he apparently "walked away from the ELF" in 2003, as he mentioned during what was supposed to be an account of his educational history. Meyerhoff's suggested sentence is 188 months for the District of Oregon charges, with the Vail charges running concurrent (at the same time) pursuant to the joint recommendation. Meyerhoff's remaining charges, including those in Arizona, Wyoming, Michigan, the Eastern District of California and the Western District of Washington will be dismissed and no new related charges will be brought against him up until December 11, 2005. All the above government terms depend on Meyerhoff's continuing cooperation for the rest of his life—this term applies to ALL of the defendants who have pled out so far.

Chelsea Gerlach entered guilty pleas to 18 counts from the District of Oregon. These counts are for conspiracy, destruction of an energy facility, as well as arsons and attempted arsons—Childer's Meat, Boise Cascade, a Eugene Police Department Public Safety Station, and Jefferson Poplar (6-18). Gerlach also entered guilty pleas for eight counts of arson from the 1998 Vail action (Colorado charges transferred to the District of Oregon). Heavy mention of the deceased Bill Rogers was made in connection to the Vail arson during both Gerlach and Meyerhoff's hearing. All Gerlach's remaining charges were dropped, and Gerlach now faces a suggested sentence of 120 months imprisonment (120 months each for Colorado and District of Oregon, served concurrently), on the condition that she continues to cooperate. At the end of her hearing, Gerlach read a statement putting distance between her current beliefs and her prior convictions. Gerlach's statement follows the plea hearings report, for informational purposes.

Suzanne Savoie's hearing was for the least amount of charges, but took a comparable amount of time due to missing legal papers, which provoked a lengthy intermission. Savoie's 15 counts were for conspiracy, arson and attempted arson at the Superior Lumber Company and Jefferson Poplar (counts 4-16). Savoie was given a 63-month suggested sentence, on the condition that she continues to cooperate fully with the government. All her other charges will be dismissed. Savoie was seen crying in the courtroom during Gerlach's statement.

Meyerhoff, Gerlach and Savoie are scheduled for formal sentencing on December 14, 2006.

As with the day before, the government announced that it will seek an upward sentencing enhancement pursuant to the federal anti-terrorism guidelines. This enhancement could carry an additional penalty of up to 30 years of prison time. Defense attorneys are expected to argue against such an enhancement, and federal Judge Ann Aiken will make the final decision at sentencing.

Still missing from the plea proceeding line up: Jacob Ferguson, Jennifer Kolar and Lacey Philabaum, who have been extensively cooperating with the government but have yet to even be charged with any crime at this time... Stay tuned.

For more information, updates and resources, visit cldc.org

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Statement of Chelsea Gerlach

Thank you for the opportunity to say a few things.

I would like to first apologize to everyone who has been hurt by my actions. It was not my intention to hurt anyone or to invoke fear. I'm sorry my actions had that effect.

These actions were motivated by a deep sense of despair and anger at the deteriorating state of the global environment and the escalating inequities within society. But I realized years ago this was not an effective or appropriate way to effect positive change. I now know that it is better to act from love than from anger, better to create than destroy and better to plant gardens than to burn down buildings.

I have taken responsibility for what I've done and will make amends by being a voice for peace in an increasingly hostile world.

Thank you.

Correction 02.Aug.2006 20:29

-A friend of Chelsea

In a letter from her dated 7/25 she asked that the following clarification to her public statement at her plea hearing be posted here:

Chelsea's statement wasn't accurately transcribed; her complete statement is as follows:

"Thank you for the opportunity to say a few things.

I would like to first apologize to everyone who has been hurt by my actions. It was not my intention to hurt anyone or to invoke fear. I'm sorry my actions had that effect.

These actions were motivated by a deep sense of despair and anger at the deteriorating state of the global environment and the escalating inequities within society. But I realized years ago this was not an effective or appropriate way to effect positive change. I now know that it is better to act from love than from anger, better to create than destroy and better to plant gardens than to burn down buildings.

I have taken responsibility for what I've done and will make amends by being a voice for peace in an increasingly hostile AND POLARIZED world.

Thank you."

She thinks it is interesting the word "polarized" was left out, because she feels it characterizes many of the comments and "reports" that have been posted about this case. She does not think that the polarization of opinion-making helps any of the defendants or the movement.

polarization 03.Aug.2006 12:46

polar bear

The version of Chelsea's statement is exactly as it was circulated by Chelsea's support group via email. The hard copy handed out to journalists at the hearing does indeed contain the phrase "and polarized." There was no malicious intent in the omission. The account of the plea deal hearing itself remains accurate.