Peter Daniel Young, the accused ALF operative who allegedly released mink from a midwestern farm and who successfully evaded capture for several years before being busted for boosting CDs at a Starbucks (!), is an exceptionally lucky fellow, according to this report:
MADISON, Wis. - Federal prosecutors have dropped four extortion charges against an animal rights activist who was accused of freeing thousands of mink from farms around the Midwest.
Prosecutors said they were forced to act because a Supreme Court decision changed the legal definition of extortion while Peter Daniel Young was on the run. The ruling found someone must actually take something from another person, authorities said.
The surprise move shocked the owner of a farm where authorities said Young helped free 300 mink in 1997.
"You've got to be kidding. Unbelievable. Unbelievable," said Alex Ott, owner of Ott's Mink Ranch in Tomahawk.
Young, 27, of Mercer Island, Wash., still faces two counts of animal enterprise terrorism — misdemeanors that each carry up to a year in prison. The four counts of interference with commerce by extortion each carried up to 20 years.
"I'm pretty pleased, as is Peter," said Young's attorney, Chris Kelly. "We're in a much better position."
Prosecutors believe Young is part of the Animal Liberation Front, a group that aims to destroy animal-related industries. He and alleged accomplice Justin Samuel were indicted in 1998 on the six charges. Prosecutors say the pair broke onto five farms in Iowa, South Dakota and Wisconsin in 1997 and freed around 7,000 mink.
Samuel cooperated with authorities and got two years in prison. Young had vanished until this past March, when he was arrested in San Jose, Calif., for shoplifting CDs from a Starbucks.
I've commented before about the ecological unfriendliness of releasing a bunch of mink into the wild, loosing them upon the local fauna and flora that are unprepared for them (or did the ALF operatives file an Environmental Impact statement before proceeding with this particular direct action?) and noted that there are some particularly nasty ways for mink to die if released like this.
I continue to believe that when it comes to releasing animals being raised for fur, symbolism and pure motives are of much greater importance than the welfare of the animals themselves, or the preservation of the habitat they are released into.
And, when ALF steals animals from research labs, what assurances do we have that they are being properly cared for? None — other than the assurrances they, criminals that they are, and their apologists, offer.
Regardless, it is as I say: Mr. Young is an exceptionally lucky fellow.
Thanks to Joe W for the heads up.