Opponents of animal testing lab, including LI man, receiving sentences for conspiracy to incite vandalism
The Meadowbrook Golf Club in Jericho was trashed in 2002, its greens
torn up and one of them gouged with the words "a pup-killer wuz hea"
because an insurance executive was scheduled to play there.
Six people were convicted in March of conspiring to incite vandalism
and harassment in connection with those incidents, which allegedly
were part of an animal rights campaign. Four already have been
sentenced, and the two others - Darius Fullmer of New Jersey and
Andrew Stepanian, 26, of Huntington, one of Long Island's most
prominent animal-rights activists - are to be sentenced in federal
court in Trenton, N.J., today.
Stepanian and his associates were not convicted of committing these
acts. Rather, they were convicted of conspiracy for running an
organization - Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, or SHAC - whose Web
site campaigned to shut down Huntingdon Life Sciences by encouraging
illegal acts, such as disruption and vandalism.
Huntingdon is one of the world's largest companies specializing in
using animals to test the safety and effectiveness of pharmaceuticals.
It has long been a target of animal-rights activists who say it treats
animals cruelly. Animal-rights activists in Britain, where the company
was founded, forced the company to move much of its activities to New
Jersey in 2002.
Stepanian was the New York coordinator for the Philadelphia-based
SHAC, according to federal charges.
"I'm confident I will win on appeal," Stepanian said in a telephone
interview yesterday from his Long Island home. Stepanian emphasized
that he had not been accused of committing any of the acts of violence
or harassment, and was, he believes, exercising his constitutional
right of free speech.
Andrew Erba of Philadelphia, a lawyer for SHAC, agreed, saying the
appeal will test the nature of free speech and speech on the Web,
noting there was "a lack of an immediate nexus ... an immediate link
between words and action."