Three animal rights activists with Compassionate Consumers were recently charged with third-degree burglary, a felony, and a fourth was fired from her job, all stemming from several incidents in which the activists allegedly broke into Wegmans’ New York egg farm in order to videotape conditions at the farm.
Adam Durand, 25; Melanie Ippolito, 21; and Megan Cosgrove were arrested and charged with third-degree bursarial which carries a maximum sentence of up to seven years in jail.
On the tape, Durand admits that he videotaped the group’s break-ins at the farm while Ippolito and Cosgrove appear on camera describing how they removed animals from the facility.
Durand told the Finger Lake Times that the trio knew a burglary charge was a possibility, but that it was worth the risk. The newspaper quoted Durand as saying,
We plan on showing up to court and, of course, we’re going to continue to promote the film and raise awareness.
The activists were, however, apparently surprised at the charges they faced. According to the Democrat & Chroncile, the three apparently thought they would only face trespassing charges which carries just a $75 fine. Wegmans, however, has apparently pressed prosecutors to bring the burgarly charges rather than settling for just trespassing charges.
The video the three taped was publicized in July by Compassionate Consumers spokeswoman Jodi Chemes. Chemes was subsequently fired by accounting firm Deloitte & Touche.
Chemes told The Democrat & Chronicle that she believes her firing was due to her animal rights activism. Deloitte & Touche does accounting work for Wegmans Food Markets, and Chemes told The Democrat & Chronicle, “I believe Wegmans pressured them into firing me.”
Deloitte & Touche said it would not comment on a confidential personnel matter. Wegmans, however, said it did contact Deloitte & Touche about Chemes. According to The Democrat & Chronicle,
When news accounts of the animal rights documentary surfaced earlier this month, a representative of Deloitte called Wegmans to say “that one of their employees was involved,” she [Wegmans spokeswoman Joe Natale] said.
After that, “our only request to Deloitte & Touche was to assure us that the security of our information was guaranteed,” said Natale.
Fired activist blame Wegmans. Corydon Ireland, Democrat & Chronicle, July 15, 2005.
Animal rights activists charged. Mike Maslanik, Finger Lake Times, August 9, 2005.
Third felony warrant issued in Wegmans Egg Farm Case. Corydon Ireland, Democrat & Chronicle, August 5, 2005.