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Animal-rights activist gets two years in prison for campaign against fur industry

An animal-rights activist accused in a cross-country fur-industry vandalism and mink-liberation campaign has been sentenced to two years in prison.

Joseph Buddenberg pleaded guilty in February to a charge of conspiracy to violate the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, a federal law passed in 2006 that criminalizes “damaging or interfering with the operations of an animal enterprise.”

A codefendant, Nicole Kissane, pleaded guilty to the same charge.

The two were arrested in July 2014, charged with participating in a concerted campaign against the fur industry in the summer and fall of 2013 that totaled some 40,000 miles in covert travel before it was over.

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One of the early targets: Furs by Graf in San Diego’s Kearny Mesa neighborhood.

The store was spray-painted with the words “killer” and “murder,” its windows etched and acid sprayed into the shop, according to court records. The vandalism caused an estimated $30,000 in damage, court records say.

The homes of the store’s owners also were vandalized.

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Subsequent to that incident, the Buddenberg and Kissane were accused of releasing 1,800 mink from a ranch in Idaho, 2,000 from a ranch in Wisconsin, 500 from a ranch in Iowa and 1,000 from a ranch in Pennsylvania.

They also were accused of gluing the locks of animal-related businesses in the San Francisco Bay Area, slashing the tires on several trucks of a meat distributor and breaking windows of a market there.

Prosecutors said the two carefully planned their actions and avoided detection by using cash only, not using phones while on the road and using encrypted emails. In all, prosecutors said, Buddenberg and Kissane caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage and losses.

At sentencing Monday, U.S. District Judge Larry Burns ordered Buddenberg to pay restitution of $398,272 to be shared with Kissane.

Kissane is scheduled to be sentenced next month.

greg.moran@sduniontribune.com

Moran writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune

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