Two California Men Indicted on Federal Charges for Allegedly Releasing 2,000 Minks and Damaging Morris Mink Farm in 2013
CHICAGO—Two California men were indicted on federal charges for allegedly damaging and interfering with the operations of a mink farm in Morris, Ill., last August. Property belonging to the mink farm, about 60 miles southwest of Chicago, was damaged and approximately 2,000 minks were released from captivity on Aug. 14, 2013. The defendants also allegedly conspired to damage and interfere with the operations of a fox farm in Roanoke, Ill., northeast of Peoria, around the same time.
One defendant, TYLER LANG, was arrested today by FBI agents in El Segundo, Calif. He was scheduled to appear this afternoon in Federal Court in Los Angeles before facing further court proceedings in U.S. District Court in Chicago. The second defendant, KEVIN JOHNSON, is in state custody in Woodford County, Illinois, and both defendants are scheduled to be arraigned in Federal Court in Chicago on July 29.
Johnson, 27, also known as “Kevin Olliff,” and Lang, 25, whose last known residences were in Los Angeles, were both charged with one count each of conspiracy and interstate travel to damage and interfere with the operations of an animal enterprise. The two-count indictment was returned by a federal grand jury in Chicago on Tuesday and it was unsealed following Lang’s arrest.
According to the indictment, the Morris mink farm and the Roanoke fox farm were in the business of breeding, raising, and selling the animals to fur manufacturers.
Between Aug. 5 and Aug. 15, 2013, Johnson and Lang allegedly conspired to travel throughout the United States, including through Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin, for the purpose of damaging and interfering with the operations of animal enterprises, including the mink and fox farms. On Aug. 14, 2013, they allegedly traveled interstate and damaged real and personal property (including animals and records) and interfered with the operations of the mink farm in Morris, located in Grundy County. The indictment alleges the offenses resulted in economic damage exceeding $10,000.
In addition to the release of approximately 2,000 minks from their cages, portions of the fence surrounding the farm were removed allowing the minks to escape from the property. A barn was painted with the words “Liberation is Love,” and a caustic substance was poured or sprayed on two farm vehicles, damaging the paint.
Each count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and restitution is mandatory. If convicted, the court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.
The arrest and indictment were announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert J. Holley, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.