[Mason City Globe Gazette]
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Despite an extensive FBI investigation, it is
increasingly unlikely anyone will be prosecuted for a 2004 break-in at a
University of Iowa lab where activists released hundreds of animals and
destroyed years of research, professors and lawyers said.
The only suspect ever charged, Minneapolis activist and graduate student
Scott Ryan DeMuth, has always maintained his innocence. Under a plea bargain
in September, federal prosecutors dropped allegations that he played a role
in the attack, and he instead pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for helping in
a 2006 break-in at a ferret farm in Minnesota.
Barring a surprise development, that means nobody will be held criminally
responsible for the raid in which masked men broke into Spence Laboratories,
freed 400 rats and mice, dumped chemicals on data, damaged computers and
equipment and publicized researchers' home addresses. The university
estimated the damage at $500,000, not including the years of research lost.
From Voice of the Voiceless
Investigation into the
Animal Liberation Front raid of UI labs ends with no one caught
years, over 200 FBI interviews, and several house raids and jail terms later,
the FBI has officially closed the investigation into the 2004 Animal Liberation
Front raid of the University of Iowa � without a conviction.
To put it
another way: the A.L.F. pulled off one of the largest lab raids in U.S. history
� and got away with it.
an article this week, the Associated Press put it this way:
an extensive FBI investigation, it is increasingly unlikely anyone will be
prosecuted for a 2004 break-in at a University of Iowa lab where activists
released hundreds of animals and destroyed years of research�
conversation with me last week, an AP reporter put it more succinctly:
FBI told me they have officially closed the investigation into the University of
And the FBI gives this �saving-face� quote:
�active investigation of the attack on the University of Iowa Laboratory has
One false arrest and several house raids later�
This news from the FBI comes less than three months after they dropped charges
Scott DeMuth, the only person charged for a role in the raid. DeMuth was
charged just three days before the state of limitations was to expire, despite
DeMuth being just 17 at the time of the raid.
During the investigation
the FBI interviewed over 200 people, subpoenaed at least three to a grand jury
(jailing Scott DeMuth and
Carrie Feldman for refusing to testify), raided my home in Utah, and more.
Animal Liberation Front walks free
The announcement should bring to a
close the investigation into the monumental lab raid, which saw the largest
rescue of animals from a lab in over 15 years. The raid closed the Spence Labs
research building for over a month. It also cost the university and researchers
$500,000, though the FBI states:
�This figure does not take into account
the years of research lost due to theft of animals, and the time lost due to the
The FBI outlined their flimsy evidence
this document � �evidence� which included cryptic journal entries,
rental car records, and sketches from interviews with department store
Could the case reopen?
Several tricks could
potentially still be used to charge someone with the Animal Liberation Front
action, despite the statute of limitations expiring. One loophole was raised
by Scott DeMuth�s attorney, Michael Deutsch, who said the government could
still theoretically bring charges against suspects by arguing a criminal
conspiracy existed for years afterwards.
Whether the government can
prove participants in the Iowa Animal Liberation Front action carried out
other actions together (and there wasn�t more than a 5-year gap between
them), and therefore charge them for a �continued criminal conspiracy�,
FBI says other investigations continue
spokesperson had this to say, alluding to future criminal cases:
�While active investigation of the attack on the University of Iowa
Laboratory has been completed, there are still ongoing investigations into
other potential criminal activities that came to light during the course of
For now, the story is this:
Liberation Front got inside an Iowa lab, circumvented security, got 401
animals out, smashed the labs, videotaped the whole thing � and didn�t get
- Peter Young