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Precedent Setting Judgment Sends Clear Message to Animal Extremists

SHAC Stiff Sentencing Is a victory for Medical Research


Contact: George Goodno, Foundation for Biomedical Research, 202-457-0654


WASHINGTON, Sept. 12 /Standard Newswire/ -- The Foundation for Biomedical Research today applauds the stiff sentencing imposed against three members of a radical animal-rights activist group, known as SHAC USA. Federal District Court Judge Anne E. Thompson delivered the sentencing against the group and three of its six members – who were convicted last March on all charged counts for their roles in a campaign to terrorize an animal research company and its employees.


Judge Thompson stopped short of delivering the maximum punishment available, though she did sentence the SHAC entity to five years of probation plus restitution and assessments totaling in excess of $1 million. In addition, SHAC ringleader Kevin Kjonaas was sentenced to 72 months in prison; Lauren Gazzola received 52 months and Jacob Conroy received 48 months. All six individuals have been named jointly and separately liable for restitution of the monetary fines, payable to Huntingdon Life Sciences.


Joshua Harper will be sentenced tomorrow, while Darius Fullmer and Andrew Stepanian will receive their sentencing next week.


The defendants were convicted on stalking charges which stemmed from an organized campaign that sought to cause three HLS employees and their families to fear death or injury. Their actions included "telephone and e-mail blitzes, fax blitzes and computer blockades against HLS in order to divert HLS employees from their regular work," the indictment charged.


The trial was the government’s first attempt to curb the growing threat of anti-research animal extremism since the Animal Enterprise Protection Act (AEPA) was amended in 2002 to include the crime of "animal enterprise terrorism." Congress is currently considering legislation to further strengthen the AEPA. The proposed legislation (H.R. 4239 & S. 3880) broadens the definition of animal enterprise, increases penalties for causing economic disruption or damage, and addresses "tertiary" or third-party targeting - a tactic used by extremists against anyone who knows or does business with anyone involved in medical research.


“The cost of not stopping radical animal extremists is high both in financial and human terms,” said FBR President, Frankie Trull. “If they are not stopped, their campaigns could drive research organizations out of the country altogether. This ruling is a significant victory, especially since it was accomplished without one strong, comprehensive federal statutes in place; however, many similar extremist campaigns are still underway throughout the country and Congress must act soon to pass the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, equipping law enforcement with the tools they need to combat this growing threat.”


Misguided and misinformed extremists are posing a growing threat to vital and humane medical research. For more information on the evolving landscape of the movement's tactics and strategies, please click here.


The Foundation for Biomedical Research is the nation’s oldest and largest organization devoted to promoting public understanding, respect and support for humane and responsible animal research. Six Nobel laureates, 13 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 13 fellows of the National Academy of Sciences, a former Surgeon General and a former Cabinet Secretary serve on its board of directors.