Wednesday, August 13, 2008

U.S. v. Tankersley

Aug 12: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, Case No. 07-30334. In this environmental terrorism case, Kendall Tankersley appealed a 41-month sentence imposed following her guilty plea to conspiracy to commit arson and destruction of an energy facility in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371, aiding and abetting attempted arson in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2 and 844(i), and aiding and abetting arson in violation of 18 U.S.C. The district court imposed a sentencing enhancement for the commission of a “federal crime of terrorism,” pursuant to United States Sentencing Guidelines (U.S.S.G. or Sentencing Guidelines) § 3A1.4 (2000), against several of Tankersley’s co-defendants who targeted government property. The district court did not impose this enhancement on Tankersley because she targeted only private property. It did, however, impose a twelve-level upward departure pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 5K2.0, which had the effect of making her base offense level the same as if she had been subject to the terrorism enhancement. The Appeals Court affirmed the ruling of the district court.

From 1996 through 2001, activist groups known publicly as the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) committed arson and other crimes against government and private entities in several Western states. The groups’ membership changed over the lifetime of the conspiracy but included as many as sixteen conspirators. Tankersley actively participated in both an attempted and a subsequently completed arson that destroyed the headquarters building of U.S. Forest Industries, Inc., a private timber company located in Medford, Oregon.

In its ruling the Appeals Court said, "The district court sentenced ten individuals involved in this conspiracy. . . The district court fully considered Tankersley’s subsequent behavior, and the court’s expectations that Tankersley, once having completed her sentence, will hopefully lead a productive, crimefree life. Nevertheless, the district court could not ignore the grave nature and aggravated circumstances of Tankersley’s offense, the enormous destruction it caused, and the intent to harm and intimidate entire communities. The district court’s sentence was well-reasoned and properly based on the § 3553(a) factors. We therefore conclude Tankersley’s 41-month sentence is reasonable."

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