ALF Activist Sentenced for Utah Mink Release
Posted: February 25, 2010
Update: Alex Jason Hall was released from prison on January 11, 2011, after serving less than six months of a 21-month sentence. Under the terms of his sentence, Hall is required to pay a portion of the $66,753 owed to the McMullin family, will be on supervised release for three years, and is prohibited from associating with radical animal rights groups. William James Viehl is expected to be released in March 2011.
A Utah man has been sentenced to two years in prison for his role in releasing more than 600 minks from and destroying property at a fur farm outside Salt Lake City in August 2008.
Acting in conjunction with an alleged co-conspirator, William James Viehl, 23, also destroyed breeding records, removed pedigree tags from animals, and spray-painted a barn with the words "We are watching" and the acronym of Animal Liberation Front (ALF), one of the most active animal rights extremist movements in the U.S. Damages and losses to the McMullin & Sons fur farm exceeded $10,000.
Viehl was sentenced on February 4, 2010, in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City. In addition to prison time, he will be required to pay more than $66,000 in restitution and will be on probation for three years, during which time he will be prohibited from communicating with other animal rights activists.
Viehl pleaded guilty in September 2009 to one felony count of damaging and interfering with the operation of an animal enterprise. The plea agreement included an admission that he used cell phones, a form of interstate commerce, in order to carry out the operation.
A second defendant in the case, Alex Jason Hall, 21, is scheduled stand trial in April. If convicted, Hall may be required to share Viehl's restitutions payments.
Animal rights activists acting on ALF's behalf have a long record of releasing animals from and destroying property at fur farms, animal laboratories and institutions they perceive as being responsible for animal abuse or suffering. Increasingly, they are also targeting individuals engaged in animal research, most notably on U.S. college campuses in California and elsewhere.