[Included in the comments section below is important dialogue on this article. The EF! Newswire has included some initial updates from Will Potter, but we suggest viewing the original post, which is being updated as information comes in.]
by Will Potter (from GreenIsTheNewRed.com)
Animal rights activist David Agranoff agreed to become a government informant as part of a plea agreement related to Earth Liberation Front crimes in Bloomington, Indiana, more than 10 years ago.
Details are still emerging about the prosecution, and others who might be implicated. The following information is based strictly on what appears in court documents, signed by all parties:
*The prosecution is related at least in part to an April 30, 2000 arson in Bloomington, Indiana, that destroyed 14 pieces of logging and construction equipment.
According to an Associated Press report at the time: “Gas tanks were filled with sand, which was also packed into oil crankcases, police said. Fuel and hydraulic lines were cut, and a tractor-trailer filled with wood chips was set on fire. On the trailer had been emblazoned the words, ‘Go develop in Hell.’ The letters ‘ELF’ had been spray-painted on several pieces of equipment…”
*In March, 2011, Agranoff waived his right to indictment (which means agreeing that the government has reason to bring the charges against him). [Source: waiver of indictment]
*In August, 2011, his attorneys filed a motion to push back his sentencing hearing, because: “The Defendant has not yet completed the cooperation he intends to provide to the government in consideration of a motion pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 5K1.1.” This is the section of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines related to “Substantial Assistance to Authorities.” [Source: motion to continue]
*In January, 2012, Agranoff was sentenced to 1 year and 1 day for misprision of a felony (knowing about the commission of a felony and failing to report it to the police). The court recommended he serve his time a low-security prison camp. He also received 1 year probation. [Source: judgement in criminal case]
*He has been ordered to pay $134,000 in restitution to two companies: $84,000 to John Jones Timber and Cutting, and $50,000 to Crider & Crider, Inc. [Source: judgement in criminal case]
As background, Dave Agranoff has been active in the animal rights movement since the 1990s. In 2007, he was subpoenaed to a federal grand jury investigating a speech by Rod Coronado. He and two other activists refused to testify, and he served 80 days in prison.
As a final note, the April 30, 2000 arson in Bloomington also appears in the plea agreement of Frank Ambrose. Ambrose became a government informant and provided information against Marie Mason in exchange for a reduced sentence. This crime was one of many that Ambrose provided information about. It is unclear at this time how, or if, these cooperating agreements are related.
UPDATE 1: This is all deeply troubling news to many in the animal rights and environmental movements, and I do not take this issue lightly. I have been grasping for any bit of information that could help explain these documents in another way.
I have received many emails from others who seem to be grasping as well. These documents were previously sealed, and there is undoubtedly additional information that myself and others have not been able to access. Couldn’t it be possible, one person asked, that Agranoff only provided information about himself, and only himself, in order to get a reduced sentence?
I had genuinely hoped this was the case, but these documents, along with the explicit language of U.S.S.G. § 5K1.1 and associated case law, unfortunately do not leave room for misinterpretation.
The only way Agranoff could have received a reduced sentence without providing information about others is if 1) prosecutors generously agreed to recommend a one-year sentence, without any substantial cooperation, or 2) Agranoff negotiated a deal that would literally rewrite this section of the U.S. sentencing guidelines.
UPDATE 2: Agranoff’s attorney has confirmed that he agreed to cooperate against Marie Mason and Frank Ambrose. He says Agranoff chose to do this because they are both currently imprisoned.
According to Marie Mason’s former trial attorney, John Minock, prosecutors had previously agreed to not prosecute her for her involvement in the April 30, 2000 arson.
However, in a letter from prison to another activist, Mason said she had heard rumors that Agranoff was cooperating against her and she was very concerned.
I will post further updates as they are available (and will do so at the end of this post, rather than editing the existing text).