- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 24, 2007

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — A federal judge sentenced a member of a radical environmental group to 13 years in prison on Wednesday, declaring that fires set at a police station, an SUV dealership and a tree farm were acts of terrorism.

Stanislas Meyerhoff, 29, has admitted to being a member of a Eugene cell of the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) known as the Family, which was responsible for more than 20 arsons from 1996 to 2001 in five Western states that caused $40 million in damage.

U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken commended Meyerhoff for having the courage to “do the right thing” by giving authorities information about his fellow arsonists after his arrest.

But Judge Aiken said his efforts to save the Earth by setting fires were misguided and cowardly, and contributed to an unfair characterization of others working legally to protect the environment as radicals.

“It was your intent to scare and frighten other people through a very dangerous and psychological act — arson,” the judge told Meyerhoff. “Your actions included elements of terrorism to achieve your goal.”

Meyerhoff was involved in fires at a Eugene police substation, a Eugene SUV dealership, an Oregon tree farm, federal wild horse corrals in Wyoming and California, and a Vail, Colo., ski resort. He also helped topple a high-voltage transmission line tower in Oregon.

After a member of the cell, Jacob Ferguson, agreed to turn informant and wear a hidden recording device, Meyerhoff and five others were arrested, starting in December 2005. Soon after his arrest, Meyerhoff turned informant as well, which Judge Aiken said resulted in more arrests.

In a statement before being sentenced, Meyerhoff denounced the ELF, saying its goals of promoting a public discussion about stopping practices that harm the Earth actually cut off debate and harmed people.

“I was ignorant of history and economy and acted from a faulty and narrow vision as an ordinary bigot,” said Meyerhoff, his voice breaking at times. “A million times over I apologize … to all of you hardworking business owners, employees, researchers, firemen, investigators, attorneys and all citizens whose property was destroyed, whose holidays were ruined, whose welfare was thwarted, and whose sleep was troubled.”

Under federal sentencing guidelines, Judge Aiken said, Meyerhoff was eligible for 30 years to life in prison.

However, prosecutors recommended reducing that to 15 years and eight months because of his cooperation with investigators. Judge Aiken further reduced that to 13 years, noting that Meyerhoff showed courage by naming names and opening himself to retribution.

Defense and prosecution lawyers declined to comment after the sentencing.

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