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.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Monday, May 29, 2006
The Times of Wayne County

Judge Kehoe sentences Wegman's Egg Farm trespasser to 6 months in jail

Following a tersely worded statement by Wayne County Judge Dennis Kehoe, the proclaimed animal rights activist, Adam Durand, was sentenced on Tuesday to six months in the Wayne County Jail, one year probation, 100 hours of community service and fined $1500.

The tough sentence was not expected by the Durand, or his defense lawyers. District Attorney Rick Healy, himself an animal lover, opted not to suggest a sentence for Durand, rather referred the Court to letters submitted by the Wegman's organization, asking that Durand serve jail time.

Durand, along with fellow animal rights activists Melanie Ippolito, and Megan Cosgrove, admit they broke into the Wegman's Egg farm in the Town of Wolcott. The group bemoaned the poultry industry and called for an investigation into conditions at the farm. Durand started and was president of a Rochester based group called Compassionate Consumers.

The group's goal was to show what they considered as the poor treatment and exploitation of chickens on the massive scale. They videotaped their break-ins and put the video on the Internet.

Arrested last August, both Ippolito and Cosgrove eventually pled guilty to trespass, but Durand decided to take the charges of Petit Larceny and Burglary.

During a jury trial earlier this month, Durand, age 26, of Rochester, was acquitted of the Burglary and Petit larceny charges, but found guilty of three counts of trespass in the 3rd Degree. He, Ippolito and Cosgrove broke into the farm [on] three different occasions[s] and admitted removing 11 sick birds during their trips.

Following his acquittal on the more serious charges, Durand, in a newspaper interview, said his group would continue pressure on the Rochester based grocery chain and stated the move by the jury would "embolden our efforts".

In his statement before sentencing Kehoe stated:

Mr. Durand, we live in a society where the rule of law means something. There are appropriate and inappropriate ways of making one's voice heard on issues that concern them. While the law allows you to picket a store on public sidewalks, it does not allow you to break into a company's hen house.

Breaking into someone else's property - whether it is to further one's own political agenda or not - is not just wrong, it is a crime. If we wish to continue to live in society that values the rule of law, and I do, as opposed to one where people pick and choose which laws they want to follow, there must be consequences from criminal acts.

I have always believed that criminal consequences should be more severe for those who refuse to take responsibility for their actions, and who continue to benefit from their criminal behavior.

In your case, you entered into your victim's hen house without permission or other lawful authority. You did this because you believed you were "above the law". You did not do this once, or even twice. You did this on three separate occasions. You did not make any of these unlawful intrusions on the spur of the moment, nor on a passing whim.

You planned your criminal activity well in advance, and carried out a carefully orchestrated scheme.

Although the jury found that you were not proven guilty of the crimes of burglary in the third degree and petit larceny on any of those three occasions, the undisputed proof at trial is that you did knowingly trespass on Wegman's property and take "personal property" on each of those occasions that did not belong to you, as evidenced by the fact that the first time two hens were removed in pillow cases, the second time two hens were removed in a card board box, and the third time seven hens were removed in a cage.

Your criminal acts were all thought out in advance. That is called, in legal parlance, "premeditation". I believe, from all that I have seen and heard in this case, that you are the "mastermind" behind the criminal activity involved here, and 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. You now have on your criminal record, three separate criminal convictions. It is your co-defendants, however, who stepped forward and took responsibility for their actions, and as a result, they now have higher level criminal convictions than you.

During the trial, I noted that you testified that after entering the hen house illegally each time, you subsequently failed to contact any appropriate lawful authority about your concerns for the welfare of the hens at the Wegman's farm. Nor did you contact any lawful authority when your movie was produced or shown, or at any other time.

Had you truly cared about the hens at the Wegman's farm, you would have complained to local law enforcement, the District Attorney's Office, or the local affiliations for SPCA. You would have written to your Assemblymen, your State Senators, your U.S. Congressmen and your Federal Senators
.

You chose not to do that. Rather, you chose to attack Wegman's by your video, your website, and verbal attacks in the press. Our society values the rule of law and we are a nation of laws. The legitimacy of the video, which you claim was completely filmed at the Wegmans facility, has never been substantiated. Nor has Wegmans had an opportunity to challenge the veracity of the film, because Wegman's was not on trial.

Society rejected vigilantism many years ago, and I believe we should not return there any time soon.

I believe you have a political agenda that clouds your thought process to such an extent that you believe you can violate the law with impunity and that you are justified in doing so. Not only did you violate the law, your conduct and that of your co-defendants demonstrated a total ignorance on your part and theirs of bio-security measures recommended by such government agencies at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, and as implemented by Wegman's at their egg facility. I believe your inexcusable conduct placed the very birds you claim to be working to protect at risk for various diseases and death on a mammoth scale. Not only did you place the hens at great risk on three separate occasions, the economic loss to your victim, as well as the surrounding community could have been enormous as a result of bold, blatant, and careless premeditated illegal conduct.

You should not assume that the jury's not guilty verdicts as to the Burglary and Petit Larceny charges were an indication that they condoned illegal conduct. The jury, like I, took a solemn oath to follow the law and render a verdict based on the law and the proof at trial. They did not have the luxury of disregarding the law any more than you or I do, Mr. Durand. There should be no mistake here, in your mind or anybody else's mind.

The victim in this matter is Wegman's, whose reputation you sought to damage, both with the consumers and in the business world.

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.

I do have several regrets. I believe you are in possession of, and have disseminated to your followers, what I would best describe as contraband. 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. The Son of Sam law does not appear to apply to this case, and I could find no other authority for such an order. It is my hope that your state legislature will someday pass the necessary legislation to further deter criminal conduct such as yours. My other regret is that I cannot hold you and your companions financially responsible for the massive costs already incurred by Wegman's, and to be incurred by other industries as well, in order to protect themselves and society from your unlawful conduct.

I am concerned that any sentence imposed by me which does not include jail time, might be perceived by you as tacit approval by this Court of your clearly illegal conduct, now and in the future, as long as such conduct can be tied to some value that you, the law breaker, perceives as a higher law. If you believe that to be the case here sir, you are mistaken.


Following his sentencing, his attorney said they may appeal.

Since the sentencing, Healy has received a number of letters, faxes and phone calls from Durand supporters from around the world, bemoaning the sentencing and actions of the court.

Durand received 60 days for each of his convictions. He would be eligible for release in four months with good behavior.


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