FBI arrests animal activists after alleged crime spree
July 27, 2015
by Erica Shaffer
SAN DIEGO – Investigators with the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested a couple in connection with a cross-country crime spree in which the victims ranged from a meat distributor to a number of mink farms.
Joseph Buddenberg, 31, and Nicole Kissane, 28, both of Oakland, Calif., face charges of conspiracy to violate the Animal and Enterprise Terrorism Act, the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Southern California reported. Buddenberg and Kissane were arrested July 24 in Oakland by FBI agents from the bureau’s San Francisco field office.
Buddenberg and Kissane are accused of slashing the tires of a meat distributor’s truck in San Francisco. The couple also allegedly released thousands of mink from farms in Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota and other locations. Additionally, the couple is accused of releasing a bobcat from a farm in Montana as they traveled in a 2012 Honda Fit committing the alleged offenses, court documents state.
“Whatever your feelings about the fur industry, there are legal ways to make your opinions known,” US Attorney Laura Duffy said in a statement. “The conduct alleged here, sneaking around at night, stealing property and vandalizing homes and businesses with acid, glue, and chemicals, is a form of domestic terrorism and can’t be permitted to continue.”
The couple publicized their crimes by writing “communiqués” describing their actions and then posting them on websites associated with animal welfare extremists, the indictment said.
To finance their travels, the couple sold items on eBay and Amazon. Buddenberg and Kissane eluded authorities by withdrawing large amounts of cash before their trips. The couple avoided using phones when possible, and used public computers and encrypted e-mail.
The charges carry penalties of up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Federal authorities will seek to move Buddenberg and Kissane to the Southern District of California to face charges.