One of two animal-rights protesters accused of freeing 2,000 minks from an Illinois fur farm two years ago pleaded guilty Friday in connection with the case.
Kevin Johnson, who also goes by Kevin Olliff, pleaded guilty to “conspiring to travel in interstate commerce with the purpose of damaging an animal enterprise,” according to the plea agreement filed in federal court.
Johnson faces up to three years in prison when he’s sentenced Nov. 5.
Johnson and Tyler Lang — a pair of animal-rights protesters from California — allegedly released the animals from a mink farm in Morris, 65 miles southwest of Chicago in August 2013, then daubed the walls of a barn with the words “Liberation is Love.”
The pair are suspected of traveling across the U.S. to free caged animals, including those on mink farms and a fox farm in Roanoke, Illinois.
Both men are veteran animal-rights protesters and are soliciting financial support, according to a website called SupportKevinandTyler.com.
The feds say that in addition to freeing the caged minks in Morris they also tore holes in a farm fence to aid the animals’ escape. They also allegedly vandalized two farm vehicles. The raid was touted on websites associated with the Animal Liberation Front, an organization the FBI has said poses a terrorist threat.
Though some of the farm’s animals were recovered, many died, according to neighbor Darren Caley.
“A lot of them got hit by cars, and a lot we found in a cornfield dead,”‘ Caley said. ”They were hand-reared and didn’t know how to hunt, so many of them starved to death.”
According to Friday’s plea agreement: “Of the 2,000 released minks, approximately 600 died or were never recovered. The remaining minks lost their resale value because the breeding cards were removed and destroyed.”
But in a statement from Vandalia prison, published by supporters on his website in February, Kevin Johnson reiterated his support for animal rights protests.
“I have seen more animals languishing in cages than I can remember,” he wrote.