Notes from Jonathan Paul’s Sentencing Hearing, 6/5/07
Jonathan Paul, 41, is charged with one count of conspiracy and one count of arson for the July 21, 1997 arson at Cavel West Horsemeat Slaughterhouse. His sentence is now in abeyance as lawyers go back and forth on paper one more time.
Assistant US Attorney Stephen Peifer for the government:
Jonathan Paul, 41, is charged with one count of conspiracy and one count of arson for the July 21, 1997 arson at Cavel West Horsemeat Slaughterhouse. The defendant is famous or perhaps infamous within animal rights circles, but he is not, according to Peifer, on trial for his politics. Jonathan Paul, according to the prosecution, is "not unlike anti-abortion extremists" who bomb abortion clinics.
Since 1986, Jonathan Paul has been "dodging bullets." "Not real bullets, except perhaps those of Joseph Dibee and Stanislas Meyerhoff" (an allusion to the alleged plot against Paul's life by others) but rather dodging accountability to the law. Jonathan Paul is a very wealthy man, according to Peifer, and he cannot blame his parents or Avalon (Bill Rodgers) for his current situation; "He can only blame himself."
On October 26, 1986, Jonathan Paul was involved with the theft of animals at a University of Oregon laboratory in Eugene. Paul took part in six months of planning, two "recon" missions and a preparatory break-in before the raid. He was prosecuted for this action but the charges were dismissed.
In 1987, Paul co-founded the Hunt Saboteurs Association, an organization that actively interferes with sport hunting.
On April 16, 1987, Paul took part in the arson at the University of California at Davis veterinary school. This is a public institution with state funding. Paul did reconnaissance on the building and acted as the driver. This was the first arson in the US attributed to the Animal Liberation Front. Paul was a "proto-arsonist" who inspired others to arson by this act.
In 1987, Paul acted as the driver at a raid against a Loma Linda Research Facility in Southern California.
In May 1987, Paul and others visited the Bureau of Land Management Wild Horse Corral in Litchfield, California. Using a saw, Paul cut away sections of the fence thus freeing the horses. There was no arrest; "Jonathan Paul dodged another bullet."
In 1988, and again in 1990, Paul also lived with Rodney Coronado, an ALF member who was later imprisoned for multiple arsons.
On April 3, 1989, Paul participated in an action at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Paul was the driver for this action. In an earlier bold "recon," Paul and another person dressed as lab workers and, during the workday entered the building and altered a door lock to provide later access. Over 1,200 animals were stolen and the property was attacked by arson. Again, Paul was not arrested and he "dodged another bullet."
In 1990, Paul was charged for the 1986 UofO burglary, but charges were dismissed on May 1,1991.
On November 3, 1992, Paul was jailed in Spokane, Washington for civil contempt for refusing to testify in front of a federal grand jury. He was held for five months and became a "hero" and "inspiration" to those who "resist legal prosecution."
With his family's wealth, Paul bought property in Williams, Oregon where he lived until moving near Ashland. Paul developed relations with Joseph Dibee, Kevin Tubbs and Darren Thurston. He dug ditches and blockaded roads at the China Left timber sale protest dodging another bullet, "albeit a small one."
In 1997, Paul met Jennifer Kolar at an animal rights event. Kolar was a student in Colorado at the time. Kolar became enamored with him and a long-distance romance ensued. Paul introduced her to the ALF and recruited her for the Cavel West arson. He and he alone recruited Kolar into "the family." Kolar subsequently participated in other arsons not involving Paul, but "Kolar is the product of Jonathan Paul." In 1997, Paul wrote several checks to Kolar, and he paid her way to and from Oregon.
At an Earth First! Rendezvous in 1997, Joseph Dibee recruited Jonathan Paul for the Cavel West arson. His role was to make the fuel for the arson. Peifer asked, "Why attack Cavel West?" It was at the center of an animal rights controversy and was linked by an article in the LA Times and other press to the Bureau of Land Management wild horse project.
Marc Blackman, Paul's lawyer, objected to this on several grounds. There was no link between Jonathan Paul and the LA Times article. The terrorism enhancement issue was closed for the Cavel West arson (it did not apply) and so such arguments should not be made. Judge Ann Aiken responded that the information in itself was relevant, but that she understood her past rulings.
Returning to Peifer's presentation, he stated that Dibee was angry that Paul recruited Kolar, someone who was a stranger to Dibee, for the action. Kolar and Paul together made a mixture of glycerin soap and diesel fuel called "vegan jello." Containers were painted black and contained no fingerprints. The team met outside of Redmond and changed into disposable clothing. 30 gallons of fuel were used. According to Kolar, Paul set the device in the shed. After 45 minutes, one of the devices prematurely ignited (Peifer claims that this shows just how dangerous they were.) Returning to the staging site, participants poured acid on the clothes used and buried them. The fire was spotted by a bread delivery van and called 911.
At a nearby residence, two people were sleeping, Pascal Derde and Roberto Rezendez. Derde had walked through the Cavel West property around midnight. The device allegedly placed by Paul in the shed failed to ignite, and was discovered by Rezendez and another individual, Sancher. Several large propane tanks were nearby and this was of great concern to firefighters. Fighting the fire depleted two million gallons of water.
Peifer then displayed several photos of the arson. The residence, propane tanks and a fuel tanker on the rail line were pointed out, as was the shed with the unignited device.
Several newspaper articles were then introduced as evidence. The Bend Bulletin article discussed the 40 firefighters and backup from Sisters, Oregon who responded; it mentioned that the plant employed 22 people. The Redmond Spokesperson quoted a commander for the firefighters as stating that it was lucky there was no loss of life; a sidebar discussed the fire's impact on water reserves.
Kevin Tubbs wrote the communiqué for the arson. Jonathan Paul was an early suspect, but he "dodged that bullet" until Kolar, Tubbs and Dibee informed on him. Following the arson, Paul was apparently not wanted back by the group. He was too reckless and "frankly, too arrogant." The arson caused over a million dollars in damage; Paul settled with Cavel West's insurers over his part. After the fire, Cavel West left Redmond which, Peifer said, Paul regarded as a victory.
After this arson, Paul was a public proponent of sabotage. He described the legal process as unworkable and likened the ALF with the Underground Railroad. At the Environmental Law Conference in Eugene in 1998, Paul likened burning animal labs to burning Nazi death camps. He apparently admitted to lying to the Spokane Grand Jury, and attacked those who cooperate with the government as "traitors." Kevin Tubbs was also at this conference.
In 1999, Paul was involved with and convicted for the disruption of a court-sanctioned whale hunt by the Makah tribe in Washington State. Peifer likened Paul's activity to that of "juveniles or drunks."
In March 2005 Paul again attended the Environmental Law Conference in Eugene, Oregon. He met Jacob Ferguson there and the conversation was recorded. Paul urged Ferguson to keep resisting the grand jury there, "It's the only honorable thing you can do. Fuck them." Paul also recounted in the recording his mistake of touching an identification card shown to him in 1989 by an FBI investigator, from which the Feds later obtained fingerprints.
Peifer again referred to the UC Davis attack as the "proto-arson" that encouraged another 20 years of arsons. He presented a 57-month suggested sentence to the court. He proposed an equal upward departure even if the terrorism enhancement was not applied. Upon showing how upward and downward departures would lead to a sentence of 57-71 months, he also suggested a truncated version of this process, starting with the federal mandatory minimum of 60 months for arson and then simply agreeing to go down three months for Paul's plea deal. Paul's attorney Blackman, Peifer argued, had come very close to asking for less than the 37 months mentioned in the plea agreement. Peifer noted that Paul's sentence was linked to that of cooperating defendant Darren Thurston within the plea deals, but while Thurston had been thorough in his cooperation and naming of names, Jonathan Paul didn't come close to this in his cooperation.
Peifer then stated that Jonathan Paul should be compared to Shelly Shannon, who in 1992 torched a doctor's office merely because he performed abortions there. The doctor ended his practice after this. Shannon also refused to testify against others and refused to name names. She is serving a 20-year sentence; Paul should get at least 57 months.
Peifer closed his presentation saying that, as a leader in animal rights circles, he should renounce the use of fire. Peifer said that Paul has not done this.
Marc Blackman, attorney for Jonathan Paul, began his presentation:
Paul Bains, an attorney licensed in Oregon and elsewhere, was called before the court after a brief dialogue about his appearance (there had been some discussion about the possibility of Bains simply making a statement by telephone, but the timing of communications led to Bains appearing in person although this was not strictly necessary.) Bains stated that a lawsuit for recovery of loss by the insurer had been filed after Paul's arrest, and that Paul had resolved this with a very fair settlement for the loss, fulfilling his obligation.
After noting the presence of members of Paul's family in the courtroom, Blackman mentioned the letters they had submitted to the court.
Blackman then stated that it was necessary not to "romanticize" Cavel West even though its destruction was unjust. He mentioned the surveillance video of practices there that were in government discovery. This was briefly reviewed during Tubbs' sentencing but very little of it was played. Blackman noted that it was ironic that the government mentioned the water depletion arising from fighting the fire, as blood from the slaughterhouse was known to be polluting the groundwater in the area. After the arson, the nearest neighbors complained of the foul odors that used to come from the plant. One former employee commented that he was "tired of working with a bunch of illegals," and Blackman used this to suggest that Cavel West did not provide quality employment at a living wage. In fact, a USDA meat inspector had stated in documents that the operation was a "company run by the Belgian Mafia." Blackman argued that one shouldn't justify the arson, but should be careful not to "gild the lily" in the other direction either.
Blackman then addressed Paul's wealth: Paul was hardly alone in benefiting from the wealth of a parent, but unlike many who used this wealth frivolously, Paul used it to promote his conviction that all life should be protected. It's interesting to note that others from these cases had complained that Paul was "too visible." This was because Paul actively funded his belief that all life is precious.
Although most of Paul's assets were of the sort that those wanting to collect a settlement "could not get at," this still did not stop Paul from paying his settlement to the insurance company in full. Paul sold real property to do this, "It's not like he just wrote a check."
Blackman discussed a 1999 letter that Paul wrote to The Oregonian newspaper. The letter was in response to an article that claimed Paul supported arson. Paul's letter stated that he never advocated or was involved in arson. Blackman stated that this was the renunciation which Peifer claims he never heard; although the letter's claim about past involvement was a lie, the rest of it summed up Paul's true feelings. Paul had spent the last eight years as a firefighter, earning him the deep respect of his community and even awards. Paul had tried to make up for the crime he had committed.
Blackman stated that Paul was the least involved with the crimes in these cases. There is no need to get into the claims made by Kolar, Blackman said, but as a lawyer he would be concerned about putting her on the stand and cross-examination if he was a prosecutor. Blackman said that he made it clear to Paul that if he brought his charges to trail and lost, he would be looking at 60 months. Blackman stated that Paul should be distinguished from the other defendants, both cooperating and non-cooperating. Aiken had stated in past hearings that the non-cooperating defendants "want to have their cake and eat it too," but in Paul's cases it is the prosecution that wants this—their suggested sentence is extremely close to what Paul would have received had he lost at trial, but Paul has taken responsibility for what he has done and helped to resolve the Oregon federal cases.
Again returning to statements by Kolar, he stated that they simply were not true. Kolar stated that Paul drove his own van in one of the actions, but Paul has never had a van. At the University of Arizona, Paul was there to release animals, not commit arson.
Blackman stated that this is one of the most difficult cases to rule on. Paul is someone who did something very bad, quite a while ago. After he thought that he had gotten away with it, Paul nevertheless did penance. Paul donned the gear of the firefighter. Blackman stated to Aiken that he didn't know how Aiken does it, that ruling on this case is extremely difficult. He doesn't think that the government had properly assessed all the variables in this situation. Blackman does not think that one can impose a sentence over the mandatory minimum in this situation.
Aiken clarified what she meant about having one's cake and eating it too. Six people have "stepped up" and cooperated with the government. Out in the community, their cooperation will follow them forever and they will receive a different sort of punishment. The non-cooperating defendants want to receive lower sentences but also want to avoid the sort of repercussions faced by the cooperators. Aiken then lectures about "random acts of violence." Aiken wants to know what sort of message is going out to the young people. She wonders why Jonathan Paul didn't use his wealth to draw attention to the issues in lawful and non-violent ways. She returns to the non-cooperation issue. Six defendants made the decision to cooperate, and four did not. "That's just a factor" in her sentencing, she stated. She respects the negotiations, but wonders if people are truly intent on changing or if they are just donning a mask to curry favor. She says that she hopes Paul will say something to "change people's behavior" away from "random acts of violence." The young people deserve real leaders. "Change tactics."
Blackman made a comment about what Paul has to say and that Aiken's remarks were prescient. He turned to the issue of Paul's non-cooperation and stated that the government still had the option of subpoenaing Paul before a grand jury. "The irony of all of this," according to Blackman, is that even if Paul had been willing to trade information for government generosity, Paul had nothing to offer in terms of new information. The prosecution knows this.
Blackman discussed Jacob Ferguson's first debriefing with the government. It included a long list of crimes, but not Cavel West. In the second debriefing, there it is. Blackman stated that he could have really shoved this fact down the government's throat if there had been a trial.
Blackman stated that Paul did not name names, as it was a matter of personal integrity to take responsibility for his own actions and not deflect blame onto others.
Aiken stated that she sees this in court every day. There are "the rules" about informing on others. A father sold out his son, but the son didn't sell out his father because of "the rules." Money is taken away from education and the community because it has to go into containing "tough behavior." She respects both sides of the legal arguments and has exercised discretion. She hopes for people to "turn down violence as a means of debate." "Violence never starts debate, it only ends it." She realize that the defendants have had to dig deep to figure out how they will portray themselves or reveal themselves at sentencing. She has to strike a balance and adhere to the guidelines and rules. "Regardless, I really hope that Mr. Paul has something profound to say." At this point, there is a break.
Upon return, Blackman addresses Paul's pre-sentence report (PSR). He wants "JP" to be removed as an alias for Jonathan Paul, as it is merely a nickname. Purdue, who took the lead in preparing the PSR, consents to this. Blackman wants the argumentative language in the overview of the offense to be removed. The reference to Cavel West as a federal crime of terrorism should also be removed, as should statements by Kevin Tubbs. These issues are taken into advisement. Blackman challenges information taken from Paul's disclosure to the government being used under Federal Sentencing Guidelines section 1B1.8.
Aiken sings the praises of Mr. Purdue and those working with him. He has an enormous workload and pressing time constraints. Purdue is professional and has a sense of humor. He met other obligations as well, "enormous efforts"... The issues raised won't impact on this hearing, only the Bureau of Prisons (BOP).
Blackman returns to his criticisms of the PSR—more references to the terrorism enhancement, judgmental language in the characterization of victim impact, improper applications of guidelines, and a reference to the University of Oregon incident that shouldn't be there.
Purdue states that he will make revisions once the court makes its findings. The BOP will look at what is decided by the court and interpret the PSR in light of this. Aiken states that once she rules, revisions will be made. She agrees to write letters to the BOP for defendants.
Jonathan Paul then made a statement. Jonathan Paul admitted that his part in the Cavel West arson was a crime. While it would be dishonest to say that he regrets Cavel West no longer being in business, the ends do not justify the means. He apologizes for the pain and hardship suffered by the victims. The arson was motivated by horror and despair at the horses destined to be slaughtered for human consumption, to spare living beings who suffer unimaginably. When he saw the flames and damage, he knew he could not be part of arson any more.
Paul has been a firefighter since '99 and knows that arson is dangerous. "I crossed the line." He has not done so since. Paul will do everything in his power to share this realization. He will continue to act for humans and animals, and against environmental degradation, but with lawful means or with public civil disobedience. He has tried to make amends, serve the community and alleviate suffering.
He thinks of his sister Caroline, who he is "incredibly proud of." She was one of the first female firefighters in the Bay Area. He thought of her responding to a fire such as Cavel West. He thought of the firefighters who responded in 1997.
In 1999, he was made a lieutenant fire fighter. He declined the promotion at first, but in the end he was made to reluctantly agree. His knowledge of the inherent risks of fire only deepens his regret. His work as a firefighter became a newfound form of activism. He has become an emergency responder and EMT. He is proud of his skills and loved his work. He responded to approximately 2,000 calls. He put his feelings aside and even rescued a bear poacher. He rescued a three-year-old kitten. Both are sentient and equal, he said. Paul regrets that he was unable to keep up with his training following his arrest and his license expired.
A pivotal turning point in Paul's life was when he met and fell in love with Tamara Drake. She is a paralegal and assists whale conservation litigation. They married in 2002 and built a life together. He did not share his "dark secret" as he was afraid he would lose her and that a cloud would be put over her lawful marine conservation work. They use solar energy and vegetable oil fuel—this is activism at its most basic level, leading by example. Paul apologizes to his family and thanks them for their love and support.
Paul apologizes to the fire service—his past actions were inexcusable, but his own work as a firefighter was always true. He wants to send a sincere message that what he did was "not OK." He will work for animals and the environment in public and transparent ways, and deeply regrets that prison will cost him his work as a firefighter.
After Paul's emotional statement, there was a break for lunch.
When court resumed after lunch, Aiken started doing her thing. Aiken stated that initially Paul seemed to "read" like the other non-cooperators, only doing what they had to. But she took a break to consider his words. "Believe me, I'm not trying to drag this out."
Aiken had listened to Paul's statement and found it thoughtful. "This is a classic case of good intentions gone wrong." If humans are going to use animals, it should be humane. But Paul had crossed boundaries, more than once, apparently.
"I'm not convinced that some of your co-defendants get it." Somewhat ironic that you put firefighters at risk. Congressional five-year mandatory minimum for arson. You meant to intimidate. Watched the surveillance tape of slaughter at Cavel West, "not pretty." Why not publicize it? Why not work with those whose water supply was affected? That takes real work, "rolling up one's sleeves" and doing work. But you just decided to destroy the property of business and government. What happened to the horses? They went somewhere else, maybe somewhere worse. "Actions didn't help animal rights."
There's something that hasn't been understood. "Generally, I honor negotiations." Block, Zacher, McGowan and Paul decided to limit cooperation. "That was your choice" and "choices have consequences." Others made their choice and face the detriment of being labeled as a "snitch." Non-cooperators decided to be hailed as heroes for keeping their integrity "so to speak." Non-cooperators face detriment of not getting the same sentence as cooperating defendants. Doesn't know what information Paul could have given. "Right or wrong, that's the system." "Don't put it back on me." Without the government offer, Aiken could not depart downward from the mandatory minimum. Doesn't like it when she keeps reading about the government overreaching in these cases. "Everybody could have rolled the dice at trial."
Aiken begins her sentencing calculations. One charge each of conspiracy and arson, conspiracy grouped with arson. Starts with offense level 6, goes upward 13 for amount of loss, 2 for more than minimal role in planning. Cavel West not an attempt to influence, coerce or retaliate against government, so no terrorism enhancement. Down 3 levels for accepting responsibility. Criminal history of 1. Upward departure for attempting to frighten and intimidate others. Won't do some complex up 30, down 25 levels calculation. Arrives at 57-71 months. Mandatory minimum of 60 months removed.
Further downward departures: circumstances different for each individual defendant. Aiken didn't go down more than two levels for any defendant, even cooperators. Not inclined to do so here. No basis for going downward with Block and Zacher. Gave McGowan the "benefit of the doubt" and went down one level. Giving Paul the same benefit. Down one level, 51-63 months. Goals of sentencing to punish, rehabilitate and community safety.
Aiken wants to take a moment because this is the last sentencing. Bemoans immaturity, lack of mentoring. "So many of you have much to give." "What's the message to young people?" The planet is worth fighting for, but don't break the law. "Walk the walk. [Note: abbreviated as WTW hereon] Practice what you preach. [... ] Do the little things." "Why is it that we make heroes out of bad people?" Don't live lavishly. Defendants "at a real crossroads." They will be haunted by their words if they don't WTW; we'll see if these were just words, or the final layer of a mask.
Paul's family stuck by him, love him. According to some psychologists, anger reflects an unmet need, "Let's meet needs." Lots of people hear what you have to say. Appreciated Paul standing up in court and renouncing arson. In the final analysis, it's all in your head, so be true to yourself.
Aiken talks about her experience doing drug court, talks about somebody who "finally got it." Volunteered to go into school and talk with children about his drug experiences. "I know when people WTW." It's these little successes that are important. "What role modeling."
Sentence given as 51 months for conspiracy and same for arson, concurrently. The usual conditions, but no restitution due to settlement. No contact with groups involved with illegal action, other environmental and animal rights groups okay, with approval. Aiken will write a letter recommending FCI Sheridan.
Blackman appears confused about Aiken's sentencing calculations. "How did we go up?" Aiken: "Then I'm not done." Break as Aiken tries to crunch numbers, return.
Aiken: "Calculations are important," begins again. States that she applied the upward departure for Cavel West frightening and intimidating others as with Kevin Tubbs. More sentencing grid stuff, 51 months in the end again.
Blackman: Refers to plea agreement, paragraph 9. He has right to appeal. Court had previously entered findings in Tubbs case and the upward departure was not for Cavel West. You can't ex post facto (after the fact) apply a justification for the sentence. After mandatory minimum has been overcome, should be by the sentencing grid: 27-33 months. The court's findings are binding; there is no authority to do this. Blackman urges the court to reflect and select an appropriate mechanism for sentencing. Assistant US Attorney claims that there is "nothing political" about these sentencings. Then why is there not truth in sentencing? Under United States v. Booker, the court has no justification for imposing this sentence. Aiken has made a fundamental error.
Aiken: "We're going to leave this open." Wants Blackman's best argument in writing. Blackman has until the 15th for his submission to the court, government has one week after to respond. Aiken insists that she referenced Cavel West when she departed upwards with Tubbs, regardless of how she referenced it. Reminds everyone that Paul entered into a plea agreement. Thanks Blackman for raising the issue. No date set for reconvening the sentencing.
Finally, a note of interest: Recently retired FBI agent John Ferreira showed up in court for Jonathan's sentencing. He was the lead investigator as early as the Detroit Ranger Station fire, and received many congratulatory handshakes from US Attorneys and others at their table when he walked into the courtroom. The government had sent out a press release and planned to hold a press conference at the courthouse after Jonathan's sentencing, crowing about their "job well done" in apprehending and sending to prison these members of the country's "number one domestic terrorist threat." Regardless of whether or not Marc Blackman's legal jiu-jitsu gets Jonathan a better sentence, the disgruntled look on Ferreira's face after the cancellation of his precious press conference was almost reward enough.
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