EUGENE, Ore. – A federal judge sentenced a member of an ecoterrorism cell to more than 12 years in prison, rejecting arguments that he played a minor role in arsons aimed at saving animals and protecting the earth.
U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken declared that four of nine fires linked to Kevin Tubbs — a forest ranger station, a police substation, a dealership selling SUVs and a tree farm — were acts of terrorism.
"Fear and intimidation can play no part in changing the hearts and minds of people in a democracy," Aiken told Tubbs before sentencing him Thursday to 12 years and seven months in federal prison.
Tubbs, 38, is the second of member of The Family, a Eugene-based cell of the radical groups Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front, to plead guilty to conspiracy and arson charges. The group is suspected in 20 arsons in five states that caused $40 million in damage.
His voice choked with emotion, Tubbs read from a statement saying he was deeply sorry for causing harm to others and that he was motivated by hopelessness and desperation over the cruelty to animals and destruction of the earth.
"I am disgusted, sickened, saddened and totally ashamed that I played any part in any of the incidents," he said.
Tubbs met the group of radical environmentalists in 1995 as they joined an encampment dedicated to stopping the U.S. Forest Service from logging trees burned by a fire, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Kirk Engdahl.
Tubbs regularly picked targets, recruited others and built incendiary devices, Engdahl said. When it came time to set the fires, he usually left that to others, serving as a lookout or driver, the prosecutor said.