Operation Backfire defendants plead guilty.Byline: Bill Bishop The Register-Guard
Two key defendants in the Operation Backfire Operation Backfire may refer to:
Chelsea Dawn Gerlach Chelsea Dawn Gerlach (born in 1977) is a radical environmentalist associated with the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front.
She was arrested in Portland, Oregon on December 7, 2005, and on July 21, 2006, she pleaded guilty to three counts of and Stanislas Gregory Meyerhoff, both 29, are scheduled for sentencing in April. Both pleaded guilty in federal court in Eugene to eight counts of arson for damaging eight structures at the Colorado resort.
The two previously pleaded guilty to dozens of other arson charges in a broader conspiracy under a plea deal with federal prosecutors who will recommend a 15-year, eight-month prison sentence for Meyerhoff and a 10-year term for Gerlach.
The Vail crimes focused national attention on radical environmentalists who anonymously credit their attacks to the Earth Liberation Front The Earth Liberation Front (ELF) is the collective name for anonymous and autonomous individuals or groups that, according to the now defunct Earth Liberation Front Press Office, use "economic sabotage and guerrilla warfare to stop the exploitation and destruction of the and the Animal Liberation Front The Animal Liberation Front (ALF) is a name used internationally by those who, through the means of direct action, oppose the use of animals as property or resources through capitalizing on the destruction and experimentation of animals. .
It is one of 18 attacks between 1996 and 2001 that have been charged to a group of 13 alleged co-conspirators. The case, dubbed Operation Backfire by federal investigators, is the largest-ever indictment of radical environmentalists.
Of the 13 defendants named in the Backfire conspiracy, 10 have pleaded guilty and three are fugitives. Three others have been charged in separate, related cases in federal court in Washington. One awaits trial, one has pleaded guilty and one is a fugitive.
Meyerhoff and Gerlach have stated in court their regrets for taking part in the conspiracy. Both have been in custody since their arrest last December.
The two attended South Eugene High School South Eugene High School is a public high school located in Eugene, Oregon, United States. It was founded as Eugene High School around 1900, and was located at Willamette Street and West 11th Avenue in a brick building that later served as Eugene's city hall. together and shared a residence in Eugene in 1994.
Neither said anything in court on Thursday except for answering questions necessary to enter their pleas before U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken Ann L. Aiken (born December 29, 1951) is a United States District Court judge for the District of Oregon.
Aiken was born in Salem, Oregon and graduated from the University of Oregon in 1974, Rutgers University in 1976, and the University of Oregon School of Law in 1979. .
Lawyers for the remaining defendants also attended the hearing to orchestrate or·ches·trate
tr.v. or·ches·trat·ed, or·ches·trat·ing, or·ches·trates
1. To compose or arrange (music) for performance by an orchestra.
2. plans for sentencing hearings that will span the last three weeks in April.
All of the defendants have a stake in a crucial legal ruling Aiken must make about whether the group's activities constitute terrorism under federal statute - and if they do, whether the harsher sentence provided by the terrorism statute applies to each defendant.
At Aiken's urging, the lawyers revised their proposed schedule for sentencings to allow her more time to consider the voluminous legal issues about the terrorism law and how it might apply to the 10 defendants. The legal argument will unfold in court at the first hearing, scheduled for April 10 in Meyerhoff's case.
The sentencing hearings are complicated further by the fact that Aiken has broad discretion in deciding sentences because the Supreme Court has ruled federal sentencing guidelines The Federal Sentencing Guidelines are rules that set out a uniform sentencing policy for convicted defendants in the United States federal court system. The Guidelines are the product of the United States Sentencing Commission and are part of an overall federal sentencing reform are merely advisory for judges.
For that reason, sentencing hearings in complex cases can be lengthy because defense lawyers want to give the judge as much favorable information about their clients as possible.
Aiken warned the lawyers that she intends to limit the discussion, by both sides, to facts relevant to the convictions and to the law.
"I'm going to keep a tight rein," Aiken told the lawyers. "It's not going to be a free-for-all on either side."