Prosecutor: Oregon man led radical cell
EUGENE, Ore. ” Stanislas Meyerhoff was a “leader, organizer and strategist” of a cell of radical environmentalists who committed arson attacks across the West and should be sentenced to nearly 16 years for his crimes, a federal prosecutor said at a sentencing hearing Tuesday.
Meyerhoff, 29, is the first of 10 radical environmentalists to face sentencing. The federal government is asking that he be sentenced to 188 months, more than any of the other defendants.
At the hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kirk Engdall said Meyerhoff had become a “leader, organizer and strategist” of the cell and that he had committed “offenses that were clearly calculated to influence the conduct of government by intimidation, coercion and retaliation.”
Meyerhoff was personally involved in attacks that resulted in damages of more than $30 million, Engdall said.
The 10 defendants ” six men and four women ” have pleaded guilty to conspiracy and arson in connection with fires, set from 1996 through 2001, that did $40 million in damage in Vail; national forest ranger stations; meat packing plants; research laboratories; lumber company offices; a tree farm; and an auto dealership.
Engdall said Meyerhoff became a “serial arsonist” after he developed a relationship with a co-defendant, Chelsea Gerlach, whom he met as a classmate at South Eugene High School.
Meyerhoff, whose hair is beginning to turn gray, listened quietly with his head down for most of the three-hour presentation by Engdall.
Engdall went through details of several arsons that Meyerhoff was involved in, including a March 2001 attack on the Joe Romania Truck Center in Eugene, and a May 2001 attack on the Jefferson Poplar Farm near Clatskanie.
Engdall noted, however, that Meyerhoff began to change when the group’s founder, William C. Rodgers, began to talk about violence against people, including talk of drive-by assassinations from a motorcycle.
Ultimately, Meyerhoff turned his back on the movement he helped create and attempted to go to college to enter middle-class life, Engdall said.
Meyerhoff’s attorneys were to give their own presentation at an afternoon hearing.
The federal government has asked U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken to apply “terrorism enhancement” as she sentences each of the 10. If she does so, they could be sent to tougher prisons.