Monday, February 14, 2011
This afternoon, family, friends and supporters gathered to show support for Scott DeMuth as he was sentenced in federal court in Davenport, Iowa. Scott was sentenced to six months imprisonment, and taken immediately into custody. We will be posting information on how to send him mail as soon as his location is confirmed.
Scott pleaded guilty in September to conspiracy to commit animal enterprise terrorism in violation of the Animal Enterprise Protection Act–a misdemeanor–for an animal liberation that took place in Minnesota in 2006.
At issue in court was the possibility of restitution. The plea agreement made no mention of restitution, but the pre sentence report suggested that he pay over $20,000 to cover damages incurred by the farm going out of business–despite the fact that it didn’t go out of business until months later. It is not actually legal to consider projected earnings in restitution, and the prosecutor conceded that the actual damages were well under $10,000. He cited a recent letter from farm owner Latzig in which he claimed to have lost approximately 30 ferrets, at a cost of $75 per female and $125 per male. This conflicts with the numbers given by Latzig in the initial police report, when he claimed to have recovered all but ten of his ferrets, valued at $40 each.
In the end, arguments over the amount of restitution became moot when Judge Jarvey conceded that restitution could not be imposed because it had not been mentioned during the plea agreement proceedings. He seemed displeased with this outcome, and suggested that if Scott were truly remorseful he would offer willingly to pay restitution to the farm owner.
The plea agreement made explicit that Scott would be sentenced to no less than six months, but defense attorney Michael Deutsch requested that Scott serve this time in either the halfway house or on house arrest. He cited the five years since the liberation during which Scott has remained law abiding, the numerous character letters written on his behalf, and the space and resources that would be wasted on his incarceration.
In a surprising turn, federal judge John Jarvey ordered Scott be taken into custody immediately at the sentencing. This is virtually unheard of for a misdemeanor charge in which the defendant clearly poses no flight risk or danger to the community. This decision was clearly motivated by a desire by the judge to further punish Scott based on the political nature of the crime, not by any legal precedent or safety concern.
Scott is currently being transferred to a local county jail to await his placement in a federal prison. Information on how to send him books, commissary money and letters will be posted as soon as his location is confirmed.
For now, money for Scott’s commissary can be sent to EWOK!, c/o Coldsnap Legal Collective, p.o. box 50514 Minneapolis, MN 55405, or can be donated online via the Paypal button on our website.
Thank you to everyone who has supported Scott through this process. Despite the stress caused by repeated postponement on his sentencing and now the surprising turn regarding his incarceration, Scott has taken this situation in his usual stride.
Please look out for announcements regarding how to write to Scott, and continue to show support while he serves his time in federal prison.
With love and rage,
The Scott and Carrie Support Committee