Woman who set bobcat free at Frazier Fur Farm sentenced

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The second of a pair of animal rights activists who terrorized the fur industry during a cross-country rampage in 2013, including setting a bobcat loose at the Frazier Fur Farm in Plains, was sentenced to 21 months in prison last week.

Joseph Buddenberg and Nicole Kissane set out in the summer of 2013 to leave their mark and record their exploits on websites associated with animal rights extremists. Kissane, 30, was sentenced in federal court Jan. 17 to 21 months in prison (a sentence that was three months longer than what prosecutors had recommended) for conspiracy to violate the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, which prohibits people from engaging in conduct “for the purpose of damaging or interfering with the operations of an animal enterprise.” Buddenberg, 32, was sentenced in May to two years in prison, according to a statement from the U.S. Justice Department.

U.S. District Judge Larry Burns had months earlier rejected a plea deal that would have obligated him to sentence her to six months, a term he said was unjust considering the crime was a “calculated, premeditated campaign of terror.”

The duo terrorized fur industry workers and facilities on a coast-to-coast rampage that included sneaking onto farms and freeing minks and destroying breeding records in Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

During their trip of terror, the two smashed windows, glued and cut locks, spray painted and damaged several fur production and retail facilities, slashed tires of workers and set free more than 5,500 minks from several facilities.

In one instance described in the indictment, released by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in July, 2015, the pair traveled from Oregon to San Diego in their 2012 Honda Fit on July 15, 2013 and used paint, paint stripper, a super glue-type substance, butyric acid, muriatic acid and glass etchant to vandalize Furs by Graf, a retail furrier located in San Diego, as well as the Spring Valley and La Mesa residences and personal property of the current and former owners of the business.

To publicize their crimes, the pair drafted “communiqués” describing their conduct and posted them on websites associated with animal rights extremists, the indictment said.

Among some of the incidents of vandalism cited in the indictment: The two slashed the tires of a meat distributor’s truck in San Francisco; smashed windows and glued the door locks at a furrier business in Minneapolis, Minnesota and vandalized and attempted to flood the Sun Prairie, Wisconsin home of an employee of the North American Fur Auctions.

According to the indictment, the unemployed pair sold items on eBay and Amazon to finance their trips. To avoid detection by law enforcement, they withdrew large sums of cash from their bank accounts immediately before setting off on a road trip. During the trips, they largely avoided the use of phones, used only cash for purchases and stopped logging in to known online accounts and e-mail. Instead, they used public Internet computers and encrypted e-mail.

Kissane has agreed to pay $423,477 in restitution, to be shared by Buddenberg.

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