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Inquiry Into 2004 UI Lab Attack Apparently Stalls

[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.

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full story:
http://www.globegazette.com/news/iowa/article_11bfb302-fbf6-11df-bd05-001cc4c002e0.html


From Voice of the Voiceless

Investigation into the Animal Liberation Front raid of UI labs ends with no one caught

Six 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.

In an article this week, the Associated Press put it this way:

�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�

In a conversation with me last week, an AP reporter put it more succinctly:
�The FBI told me they have officially closed the investigation into the University of Iowa incident.�

And the FBI gives this �saving-face� quote:

�active investigation of the attack on the University of Iowa Laboratory has been completed�

One false arrest and several house raids later�

This news from the FBI comes less than three months after they dropped charges against 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 cleanup.�

The evidence

The FBI outlined their flimsy evidence in this document � �evidence� which included cryptic journal entries, rental car records, and sketches from interviews with department store cashiers.

 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�, seems unlikely.

FBI says other investigations continue

An FBI 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 the investigation�

For now, the story is this:

The Animal Liberation Front got inside an Iowa lab, circumvented security, got 401 animals out, smashed the labs, videotaped the whole thing � and didn�t get caught.

- Peter Young

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