We're starting to learn a little more about how Peter Daniel Young eluded authorities for several years after having released thousands of mink: he had help! (Duh . . .)
MADISON, Wis. - Animal rights activists in northern California helped a Washington state man accused of releasing thousands of mink from Midwestern farms dodge authorities for the last few years, federal investigators believe.
Peter Daniel Young rented an apartment under a false name, used another activist's credit card and appears to have run a mail-order CD business over his computer while he was on the lam, according to search warrant applications recently unsealed in the U.S. District Court of Northern California.
"I have probable cause to believe that one or more individuals ... have in some manner assisted Young in remaining concealed from arrest," Scott Merriam, an agent in the FBI's San Francisco office, wrote in the applications.
Young, captured in March after seven years on the run, faces two federal counts of animal enterprise terrorism in Wisconsin. The decision on whether to bring more charges in his case rests with the U.S. attorney's office in San Francisco since Young and his friends apparently were living in that jurisdiction.
[ . . . ] Young's attorney in Madison, Chris Kelly, downplayed the documents.
"I'm not sure most of it has any real significance to the charges Peter is facing here (in Wisconsin). The information in the warrant is just a bunch of allegations. They haven't been proved," he said.
[ . . . ]
Of course, Mr. Young is less likely to worry about having received help than those who helped him should be for having given it . . . which is the point of the search warrant applications . . .
I doubt that the attorney for any of his alleged accomplices would be quite so cavalier about the warrants.
Federal prosecutors believe Young and Justin Samuel broke onto farms in Wisconsin, South Dakota and Iowa in 1997 and freed 7,000 mink on behalf of the Animal Liberation Front. ALF is an umbrella for groups of animal rights activists working against industries they feel injure animals.
They both were originally indicted in Madison in 1998 on four counts of interfering with interstate commerce by extortion and two counts of animal enterprise terrorism.
Federal prosecutors dropped the extortion counts against Young, 27, last week . . . Young, of Mercer Island, Wash., still faces trial this fall on the two animal enterprise terrorism counts.
Young and Samuel disappeared after the indictment came down. Police caught up with Samuel in Hasselt, Belgium, in 1999. He struck a deal with prosecutors and served two years in prison.
Young stayed a step ahead of the FBI, local police and foreign law enforcement agencies. He finally was arrested in San Jose, Calif., this past March after police said an officer caught him trying to shoplift CDs from a Starbucks.
According to the search warrant applications, Young had a Virginia identification card with a different name that he used to rent an apartment in Santa Cruz, Calif., starting in May 2003 until he was captured this spring.
He chose that area so he could get help from animal rights activists there, the applications said. His apartment was near the home of a fellow animal rights activist who was arrested with Young during a protest at the University of California, Davis in 1997.
Police who arrested Young also found a Visa card on him that belonged to a San Francisco woman known as an animal rights activist. The search warrant applications said the woman gets mail at Young's apartment.
How very interesting — of course, once the cops have their clutches on accomplices, they can start playing one against the other, a favor here, a threat of maximum sentencing there, especially if any alleged accomplice is hit with some form of felony conspiracy charge. This could be a real test for someone's ideological purity.
Just ask Mr. Samuel, who evidently sold Mr. Young out in return for a relatively light sentence.
The quid pro quo rules.
Officers also found postal delivery receipts on Young. Postal employees said Young brought in 20 to 50 media mail packages containing CDs, DVDs or books to mail to customers of his business, which he ran through his computer. Young was caught trying to steal eight copies of the same CD from Starbucks, the warrant applications said.
Customers of his business . . . boosting CDs, DVDs and books to serve his mail order customers . . . The free enterprise system at work, albeit sweetened with a little theft, perhaps as an attempt to legitimize its illegitimacy to egalitarian true believers.
That would be a nice touch, for Mr. Young to make his business at one time both a capitalistic venture, one designed to profit Mr. Young, and paradoxically, an anti-establishment enterprise, one that appeared to be a protest against the hated capitalists, whose goods were stolen, to satisfy egalitarians everywhere!
Who says you can't have your cake and eat it too?