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DeMuth accepts plea deal in animal rights activist prosecution
Nearly a year after animal rights activist and scholar Scott DeMuth was ordered to testify before a federal grand jury in Iowa, he has agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor. After Demuth refused to testify before the grand jury in October 209, the government filed conspiracy charges against him under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) related to an action at the University of Iowa in which 401 laboratory animals were freed from a lab in 2004, an incident for which the Animal Liberation Front claimed responsibility.
Last April, DeMuth was re-indicted for conspiracy for the ALF raid at the University of Iowa in 2004 and also another action involving ferrets freed from a facility in Howard Lake, Minnesota as well as "other animal enterprises elsewhere," according to the Support Scott DeMuth website.
On September 13, DeMuth pled guilty to the second incident, involving Lakeside Ferrets, Inc in Howard Lake, Minnesota, which carries a maximum of six months in prison and a period of supervised release. In the plea agreement, the charges against DeMuth reguarding the University of Iowa were dropped. "He should never have been accused of Iowa in the first place," said DeMuth's lawyer, Michael Deutsch at the People's Law Office.
Deutsch said that the government's decision to remove the Iowa charge "made the offer enticing." Also, Deutsch said that another factor leading to DeMuth's accepting the plea deal was because his friend and former girlfriend Carrie Feldman had been subpoenaed to testify against him. Feldman, who herself had already spent time in jail when she refused to testify before a grand jury last year, would have gone to jail for refusing to testify against DeMuth had he not accepted the plea agreement.
The Support Scott Demuth website states that as a condition of DeMuth's plea, the government agreed to ask for a sentence of the full six months in prison, but not to ask for the imposition of any fine. Demuth's sentencing has been scheduled for December 15, with a surrender date likely to be set for early 2011. Until then, DeMuth no longer has to wear electronic monitoring.