Peter Daniel Young — I’d Break Into Mink Farm Again

In interview with the Associated Press, animal rights extremist Peter Daniel Young said that although he faces up to two years in jail for breaking into fur farms, “I would do it all again.”

Young, 28, told the Associated Press,

As bad as it could get [in prison], it will never be as bad as it was for those mink. I would do it all over again.

. . .

If saving thousands of [mink] lives makes a terrorist, then I certainly embrace the label. I would have been just as fast to act if those cages had been filled with human beings.

Young is scheduled to be sentenced November 8.


Animal activist faces prison term. Todd Richmond, Associated Press, October 6, 2005.

Who Sheltered Peter Daniel Young?

A number of media reports in July indicated that federal investigators believe animal rights activists in northern California helped Peter Daniel Young evade authorities during his seven years on the run.

Young was indicted in 1998 on charges stemming from several break-ins at fur farms. He disappeared and lived on the lam for 7 years before being arrested earlier this year.

According to the Associated Press, Young used another activist’s credit card and rented an apartment using a false name. The activist whose credit card Young was using also received mail at Young’s apartment according to the FBI.

In a search warrant application recently unsealed in the U.S. District Court of Northern California, FBI agent Scott Merriam wrote,

I have probable cause to believe that one or more individuals . . . have in some manner assisted Young in remaining concealed from arrest.

The search warrants also reveal Young’s motives in attempting to shoplift several CDs from a Starbucks which ultimately led to his arrest. Young ran an Internet-based mail-order business and apparently was selling his shop-lifted goods to help support himself.


Accused mink raider hid with friends in Santa Cruz, feds say. Todd Richmond, Associated Press, July 29, 2005.

Supreme Court Case Forces Prosecutor’s to Drop Charges Against Animal Rights Extremists

Federal prosecutors announced in July that a 2003 Supreme Court decision forced them to drop four extortion charges against animal rights extremist Peter Daniel Young. Young, 27, was indicted in 1998 and accused of several fur farm break-ins. He was captured earlier this year after 7 years on the run.

Young had originally been charged with four counts of extortion using the same legal theory that had led to a novel civil lawsuit against anti-abortion activists. That theory attempted to stretch the definition of extortion to include criminal acts that were designed to drive a legal establishment, such as an abortion clinic, out of business.

The National Organization for Women won a civil racketeering lawsuit against anti-abortion extremist Joe Scheidler. NOW argued that Scheidler had engaged in pattern of encouraging and participating in numerous criminal acts designed to shut down abortion clinics. Like the animal rights extremists, the anti-abortion extremists used violence, threats, and harassment to intimidate their targets.

But in 2003, the Supreme Court by an 8-1 vote overturned the judgment against Scheidler, saying that regardless of what Scheidler may have done, he did not commit extortion because he did not “obtain” property from his targets which is required by federal law for the crime of extortion to have occurred. The majority opinion said that,

It is undisputed that petitioners interfered with, disrupted, and in some instances completely deprived respondents of their ability to exercise their property rights. Likewise, petitioners’ counsel has acknowledged that aspects of his clients’ conduct were criminal. But even when their acts of interference and disruption achieved their ultimate goal of shutting down an abortion clinic, such acts did not constitute extortion because petitioners did not “obtain” respondents’ property. Petitioners may have deprived or sought to deprive respondents of their alleged property right of exclusive control of their business assets, but they did not acquire any such property. They neither pursued nor received “something of value from” respondents that they could exercise, transfer, or sell. United States v. Nardello, 393 U. S. 286, 290. To conclude that their actions constituted extortion would effectively discard the statutory “obtaining” requirement and eliminate the recognized distinction between extortion and the separate crime of coercion.

In his lone dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens argued the court had interpreted the statutes too narrowly, writing,

For decades federal judges have uniformly given the term “property” an expansive construction that encompasses the intangible right to exercise exclusive control over the lawful use of business assets. The right to serve customers or to solicit new business is thus a protected property right. The use of violence or threats of violence to persuade the owner of a business to surrender control of such an intangible right is an appropriation of control embraced by the term “obtaining.” That is the commonsense reading of the statute that other federal judges have consistently and wisely embraced in numerous cases that the Court does not discuss or even cite. Recognizing this settled definition of property, as I believe one must, the conclusion that petitioners obtained this property from respondents is amply supported by the evidence in the record.

The 2003 decision is why there have been no similar substantive RICO prosecutions of animal rights extremists. When federal prosecutors decided to indict extremists connected with Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, they wisely chose to go after them for interstate stalking and conspiracy to commit same.

In light of the Scheidler decision, prosecutors in the Young case had no option but to drop the charges.

The solution to Scheidler case, by the way, is to petition Congress to alter the Hobbs act to make Stevens point explicit that a criminal conspiracy to deny access to legitimate business or other assets is included in the definition of extortion. Until then, the current federal approach of using federal statutes against interstate stalking is the best option available.

Unfortunately, the four counts of extortion filed against Young were the main charges against him. All prosecutors have left are two misdemeanor charges of violating the Animal Enterprise Act which each carry only one year in prison.


Feds drop extortion charges against accused mink farm raider. Associated Press, Todd Richmond, July 22, 2005.

Peter Young Arrested After Seven Years on the Run

Animal rights extremist Peter Young, 27, was arrested on March 21 after seven years on the run. Young was indicted in 1998 in a number of break-ins at fur farms in Wisconsin.

The government alleges that Young and Justin Samuel broke in to a number of fur farms and released the animals there. In 1999, Samuels was extradited from Belgium and plead guilty to two misdemeanors arising from the fur farm break-ins. As part of a plea deal, Samuel agreed to provide law enforcement with testimony against his co-conspirators, including Young, which made Samuels persona non grata among activists.

Young was arrested at a Starbucks in San Jose, California, after he attempted to shoplift several CDs. Fortunately, an on-duty, uniformed police officer was also in the Starbucks (these activists are brilliant, eh?) and arrested Young.

Young was being held in isolation after his arrest because he refused to have a tuberculosis test because it was not vegan. He was also whining that Santa Clara County corrections wouldn’t provide him with vegan food (though they did offer him vegetarian fare).

An obvious question is where Young has been for seven years and whether or not other activists have helped him hid. As Fur Commission USA’s Teresa Platt told the Mercury News,

I’d like to know who introduce him to this, and who indoctrinated him. And who’s been hiding him? You can’t tell me that nobody knew where he was for seven years.

Samuel served two years in prison for his part in the break-ins, and is reportedly living in San Diego, California.

Young could potentially serve life in prison if he is convicted an all charges.


Activist eluded capture for years. Dana Hull, Mercury News, March 29, 2005.

Wanted animal rights activist arrested after 7 years on the run. Associated Press, March 29, 2005.