Lawyers want to keep protester jailed

Apr 21 2010 - 10:45pm

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Viehl
Viehl

SALT LAKE CITY -- The U.S. Attorney's Office does not want a Layton man who pleaded guilty to damaging a mink farm released early from federal prison.

The attorneys for William James Viehl filed a motion April 7 to have the 23-year-old man released early from federal prison pending an appeal of his sentence.

The U.S. Attorney's Office filed a motion April 16 opposing any early release, citing Viehl poses a risk of danger to the community because of handwritten correspondences they said he has had with an animal rights extremist, Peter Young, in Salt Lake City.

U.S. District Judge Dee Benson sentenced Viehl in February to serve two years in a federal prison for damaging a mink farm in South Jordan. Viehl has since been transported to a federal prison, either in Arizona or California, according to court documents.

Co-defendant Alex Hall, of Ogden, pleaded guilty April 15 to one count of damaging and interfering with an animal enterprise for damaging the mink farm in South Jordan. His sentencing hearing is set for June 30.

According to court documents submitted by the U.S. Attorney's Office, the FBI served a search warrant on the home of Young on March 15. He is a member of the Animal Liberation Front, has served federal prison time for raiding mink farms in Wisconsin and sponsors the website www.voiceofthevoiceless.org.

Agents found a copy of the discovery materials that had been provided to Viehl, according to the documents. They also found "hand-written correspondence from the defendant to Peter Young illustrating a close, ongoing personal relationship founded upon animal rights extremism."

On March 28, Young posted a self-written article on his website, sharing detailed information and copies of reports, "which would have only been available from the discovery materials in this matter," according to the documents.

The documents do not state when the correspondence between Young and Viehl was written, but does say Young wrote in his website article that he was allowed to view FBI paperwork outlining the case against Viehl after Viehl was sentenced.

Viehl's attorneys said in their motion that Viehl is not a flight risk, nor a risk of danger to the community.

"Mr. Viehl has shown remorse for his actions, which lends to him not being involved with criminal behavior in the future," according to the defense's court documents.

A presentence report had recommended that Viehl serve only six months in jail and receive credit for the six months he served in Davis County Jail.

Benson told Viehl at a hearing Nov. 12 that he was inclined to sentence Viehl to serve three to five years in a federal prison. At that time the hearing was continued so Viehl's attorneys could show why Viehl should serve less time.

At the February sentencing, Viehl was ordered not to have any contact with members of ALF, the Earth Liberation Front or similar groups.

Updated 10:44 p.m.


U.S. Attorney's Office doesn't want early prison release in mink farm case

SALT LAKE CITY -- The U.S. Attorney's Office does not want a Layton man who pleaded guilty to damaging a mink farm released early from federal prison.

The attorneys for William James Viehl filed a motion on April 7 to have the 23-year-old man released early from federal prison pending an appeal of his sentence.

The U.S. Attorney's Office filed a motion on April 16 opposing any early release, citing Viehl poses a risk of danger to the community because of hand-written correspondences they said he has had with an animal rights extremist, Peter Young, in Salt Lake City.

U.S. District Judge Dee Benson sentenced Viehl in February to serve two years in a federal prison for damaging a mink farm in South Jordan. Viehl has since been transported to a federal prison, either in Arizona or California, according to court documents.

Codefendant Alex Hall, of Ogden, pleaded guilty on April 15 to one count of damaging and interfering with an animal enterprise for damaging the mink farm in South Jordan. His sentencing hearing is set for June 30.

According to court documents, submitted by the U.S. Attorney's Office, the FBI served a search warrant on the home of Young on March 15. He is a member of the Animals Liberation Front, has served federal prison time for raiding mink farms in Wisconsin and sponsors the website www.voiceofthvoiceless.org.

Agents found a copy of the discovery materials that had been provided to Viehl, according to the documents. They also found, "hand-written correspondence from the defendant to Peter Young illustrating a close, ongoing personal relationship founded upon animal rights extremism."

On March 28, Young posted a self-written article on his website, sharing detailed information and copies of reports, "which would have only been available from the discovery materials in this matter," according to the documents.

The documents do not state when the correspondence was written between Young and Viehl, but does say Young wrote in his website article that he was allowed to view FBI paperwork outlining the case against Viehl after Viehl was sentenced.

Viehl's attorneys said in their motion that Viehl is not a flight risk, nor is a risk of danger to the community.

"Mr. Viehl has shown remorse for his actions, which lends to him not being involved with criminal behavior in the future," according to the defense's court documents.

A pre-sentence report had recommended that Viehl serve only six months in jail and receive credit for the six months he had served in the Davis County Jail.

Benson told Viehl at a hearing on Nov. 12, he was inclined to sentence Viehl to serve three to five years in a federal prison. At that time the hearing was continued so Viehl's attorneys could show why Viehl should serve less time.

At the February sentencing, Viehl was ordered not to have any contact with members of AFL, the Earth Liberation Front or similar groups.

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