Wegmans Cruelty: An Unofficial Blog

This is an unofficial blog and informational archive related to the WEGMANSCRUELTY film and resulting campaign.

Please see that page for more information.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Animal-rights activist

who filmed egg farm
draws 6-month sentence

Associated Press Writer


May 16, 2006

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- An animal-rights activist drew a maximum six-month jail sentence Tuesday for sneaking onto New York state's largest egg farm to videotape thousands of chickens confined to small wire cages.

Adam Durand, 26, was convicted earlier this month on three counts of criminal trespassing, a misdemeanor. He was sentenced to two consecutive terms of 90 days, fined $1,500, ordered to serve 100 hours of community service and placed on probation for a year.

Durand denied breaking into a shed during three nighttime visits in 2004, saying he climbed in through a hole in a wall. He also said he had no intention of removing birds from the farm operated by Rochester-based supermarket chain Wegmans where 700,000 hens produce more than a half-million eggs a day.

Two women who accompanied him took away 11 hens "because in every case they were sick or dying and there was just this feeling that they needed veterinary care," Durand testified during his three-day trial in Lyons, 40 miles east of Rochester.

Durand's lawyer, Len Egert, said he hadn't expected him to receive any jail time.

"I think it's excessive, given the circumstances," Egert said. "This is a low-level misdemeanor offense and Adam has no prior criminal record. For Wegmans to come in and ask for the maximum and get it is disturbing."

"This is a sentence that doesn't really fit the crime," echoed Ryan Merkley, campaign coordinator for an animal-rights group led by Durand called Compassionate Consumers. "He shouldn't be sentenced to jail, he should be applauded for his efforts to bring to light the kind of cruelty that's committed by Wegmans."

Two friends who accompanied Durand to the farm in Wolcott pleaded guilty to trespassing and petit larceny, both misdemeanors, and were placed on probation.

The trio were arrested last summer when Durand produced a short documentary titled "Wegmans Cruelty" that was screened at a Rochester movie house.

The film contained footage of hen corpses lying in cages with live hens, a few that had fallen into deep manure pits and others with their heads apparently caught in wire cages.

About 95 percent of the nation's eggs are produced at caged-hen egg farms. The poultry industry says the system cuts production costs and limits the animals' exposure to diseases.

Copyright 2006 Newsday Inc.

Egg farm trespasser gets 6 months in jail
Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Finger Lakes Times, jmiller@fltimes.com

LYONS — Adam Durand was sentenced yesterday to six months in jail for trespassing on Wegmans’ Wolcott egg farm while he and other animal rights activists filmed conditions there in 2004.

Durand was immediately taken to the Wayne County Jail, but his attorney, who called the sentence excessive, said he may appeal.

Judge Dennis Kehoe, who called Durand the mastermind of a blatant and carefully orchestrated crime, fined him $1,500 yesterday and also sentenced him to one year of probation and 100 hours of community service.

“You entered your victim’s hen house without permission,” Kehoe told Durand. “You did this because you believed you were above the law.”

Durand, president of the Rochester-based group Compassionate Consumers, en-tered the egg farm three times. He and the other activists took 11 hens that they believed were sick or dying and later released a movie titled “Wegmans Cruelty.”

But Wegmans representatives have said they’re proud of their farm, and District Attorney Richard Healy found no evidence of animal cruelty there.

A jury acquitted Durand of felony burglary and petty larceny charges but convicted him on three counts of trespassing, a misdemeanor carrying a maximum sentence of 90 days per count.

“I believe you have a political agenda that results in your suffering from the erroneous delusion that your conviction is a ‘Red Badge of Courage’ instead of ‘The Scarlet Letter’ that it actually is,” Kehoe said. “You have made arrogant and self-righteous statements of justification. You have demonstrated by word and action your obvious disdain for your victim and the laws of the state of New York.”

Durand’s attorney, Leonard Egert, said he’d never seen a first offender get the maximum sentence on a misdemeanor, as Durand did on two of the trespassing counts. Wayne County Probation had recommended only community service for Durand, but Wegmans asked for jail time, Egert said.

“Essentially, the judge gave [Durand] the exact sentence that Wegmans requested,” Egert said.

Testifying during his trial, Durand said the activists removed the hens because they wanted to help them. He described hens covered in flies, trapped in manure pits and hens with their necks stuck in cages.

But by entering the farm, the activists risked infecting the hens with diseases, Kehoe said yesterday, noting they could have caused “death [of hens] on a mammoth scale” and enormous economic damage to both Wegmans and the community.

If the activists had truly cared about the hens, Kehoe said, they would have contacted the authorities. Instead, they chose to attack Wegmans through their film, he said.

“I would like to be able to order you to recover and destroy all of your illegally obtained and perhaps inaccurate videos, but, unlike you, I will follow the law,” Kehoe said.

Egert said he believes Kehoe was trying to make a point with his sentence.

“It seemed like he took into account a lot of other things surrounding this case [such as the film distribution] rather than the actual circumstances of it,” Egert said.

Kehoe said any sentence he imposed that did not include jail time might be perceived as tacit approval of Durand’s actions.

And that perception would be a mistake, he said.

Durand could be out of jail in four months with good behavior, Egert said. He asked Kehoe to give Durand time to make arrangements for his pets before beginning his sentence, but the judge declined, he said.

Content © 2006 The Finger Lakes Times
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  • At 8:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Judge Kehoe is sadly just another corrupt egotistical member of our "cater to the rich" legal system. Looks like Wegmans comes out smelling like a rose in a manure pit. The authorities have known about the situation at the egg farm for a long time but the law had consistently turned its' head and closed its' eyes. Now what?


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