Animal Extremist Sentenced to Three Years and $200,000 in Restitution

In federal court Monday, February 29, Kevin Johnson was sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay $200,000 in restitution to the fur farm owner victims of his sabotage, according to the Chicago Tribune.  Johnson, 29, pleaded guilty last year to one count of conspiring to travel across state lines to interfere with the operations of an animal enterprise, a violation of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA). In handing down the sentence, U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve said she was troubled by the "escalation" of Johnson's activism over the years and that previous stints behind bars had not seemed to deter him. She also noted that his actions on the mink farm caused suffering for many of the animals he professed to want to save. In all, more than 550 of the minks died, many painfully, the judge said.  The fur farm owners were forced to close their longstanding business and lost their retirement funds in the process. Before he was sentenced, Johnson choked back tears and apologized for the attack, saying he has finally realized after nearly a decade of arrests that committing criminal acts was not an acceptable form of protest.

“(Johnson) has stalked, stolen, harassed, and threatened to make his point," Assistant U.S. Attorney Bethany Biesenthal wrote in a court filing, "... his past shows an escalating dangerousness."  Records show Johnson has a long criminal record in California starting in 2006. Video from the protests depicted him screaming into a bullhorn outside Pom Wonderful executives' homes, threatening to harm them and their families, according to prosecutors. Three years later, Johnson was arrested after threatening UCLA professors over their use of animals in research. He later pleaded guilty to criminal stalking and served about 1 1/2 years in prison, prosecutors said.  In May 2012, five months after his release on parole, Johnson was arrested for shoplifting and inciting a riot, prosecutors said. Later that year he was arrested again for attempting to burglarize a pharmacy, and when authorities searched a laptop computer found in Johnson's car, they found personal information about scientific researchers and their families, according to prosecutors.

An accomplice, Tyler Lang of Los Angeles, also pleaded guilty last year to the same charge as Johnson.  Lang is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge St. Eve on March 23, 2016.