Scott DeMuth, animal rights activist, sentenced to prison

Scott DeMuth is going to prison.

Scott DeMuth is going to prison.

Scott DeMuth set the ferrets free. Now he's going to prison.

An Iowa judge has sentenced the 23-year-old University of Minnesota graduate student to six months behind bars for busting into a Howard Lake ferret breeding business in 2006 and setting 200 of the critters free.

Eugene Latzig lost his livelihood because of the attack, which the Animal Liberation Front said targeted his operation in the mistaken belief that he was raising minks.


A letter ALF about the Howard Lake attack was found on DeMuth's computer after it was seized when he was arrested in 2008 during a pre-RNC sweep of anarchists and protesters in Minneapolis.

The FBI considers the ALF to be a domestic terrorist organization.

Along with the time in prison, DeMuth will serve a year of supervised release. And although his supporters are outraged, he ended up with a pretty good deal. By pleading guilty in September to misdemeanor charges, he avoided felony charges and the risk a longer sentence. [Downlaod the plea agreement here.]

"There is no compelling societal good that results from Scott being removed from his family, loved ones and community," said supporter Lisa Williams in a statement. "There is only the government wielding its power over Scott because of his perceived politics in order to discourage him and others from expressing dissent."

But in court, prosecutor Cliff Cronk saw things differently.

"It was an act of cowardice under the cover of darkness," Cronk said. The vandals were there for "some cause they thought was greater than the livelihood of this old man."

DeMuth is still suspected in a 2004 raid on a University of Iowa animal lab that resulted in $500,000 worth of damage, but that case has never come to trial.