Turkey Plant Workers Indicted for Cruelty

The following press release is posted here:

Indictments Are First Felony Charges for Abuse of Factory-Farmed Birds

For Immediate Release:
February 9, 2009

Dan Paden 757-622-7382

Lewisburg, W.Va. — A Greenbrier County grand jury has issued 19 indictments for cruelty to animals against three former employees of Aviagen Turkeys, Inc. The workers were among those documented abusing and killing turkeys during a PETA undercover investigation conducted last fall at Aviagen’s West Virginia factory farms. Eleven of the indictments are felony charges, the first time in U.S. history–and overdue, according to animal welfare workers–that factory farm employees have faced felony cruelty-to-animals charges for abusing birds. Each felony charge is punishable by one to five years in jail and a fine of $1,000 to $5,000. The eight misdemeanor indictments issued are punishable by up to six months in jail, a fine of $300 to $2,000, or both.

The indictments follow an investigation conducted by the West Virginia State Police into acts documented by PETA. The indicted men–Edward Eric Gwinn, Walter Lee “Pee Wee” Hambrick, and Scott Alvin White–were investigated for acts such as stomping on turkeys’ heads, twisting turkeys’ necks in failed attempts to kill them, and repeatedly banging a turkey’s head against metal scaffolding. Gwinn was investigated for his mimicked rape–caught on video–of a turkey hen whom he had pinned against the floor. Additional charges against the men are anticipated to be filed soon in neighboring Monroe County for similar acts committed in that jurisdiction.

PETA recently learned from a whistleblower that Aviagen still has some abusive workers on its payroll. PETA has notified Virginia and federal authorities of suspected drug-related crimes and violations of labor regulations.

“This decisive action by the West Virginia State Police sends a strong message to those who abuse animals,” says PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk. “If anyone at home wants to guarantee that they won’t support such cruelty, they should leave turkey off the grocery list and try some vegetarian recipes.”

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

-Suzanne McMillan

2 Responses

  1. Well, here’s an instance of cruelty from the other side of the fence that shouldn’t go unnoticed:

    4 Accused In UC Animal Terror Case Arrested
    Members Belonged To Animal Rights Groups, Police Say

    POSTED: 2:34 pm PST February 20, 2009
    UPDATED: 4:37 pm PST February 20, 2009

    4 Accused In UC Animal Terror Case Arrested]
    SANTA CRUZ, Calif. — Four animal rights group members have been arrested on suspicion of terrorizing University of California researchers, Santa Cruz police said Friday.

    The arrests stem from a series of threatening incidents that started in October of 2007 when a group of 20 people demonstrated outside of UC-Berkeley and chanted on a professor’s front yard while wearing bandannas to hide their faces, police said.

    Those arrested include: Adriana Stumpo, 23, of Long Beach; Nathan Pope, 26, of Oceanside; Joseph Buddenberg, 25, of Berkeley; and Maryam Khajavi, 20, of Pinole.

    The four have been charged with using force, violence or threats to interfere with the operation of the University of California in violation of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act.

    Pope, Stumpo and Khajavi are also accused of entering the home of a UC-Santa Cruz professor on Feb. 24, 2008, and hitting the researcher’s husband with an object, police said.

    On July 29, 2008 a series of fliers titled “Murderers and torturers alive & well in Santa Cruz July 2008 edition” was found at the Café Pergolesi in Santa Cruz.

    The fliers listed names, addresses, and telephone numbers of several UC researchers and said, “animal abusers everywhere beware we know where you live we know where you work we will never back down until you end your abuse.”

    Police said Buddenberg, Pope and Stumpo were connected to the distribution of the fliers in Santa Cruz.

    Two firebomb attacks outside the homes of some UC-Santa Cruz researchers came just days after the fliers were handed out, police said.

    The firebomb attacks remain under investigation.

    “This sends a strong message that our community won’t tolerate this type of senseless violence. You have absolutely no right to attack a family in the sanctity of their home. We are proud of the collaboration with our law enforcement partners on this case and look forward to those involved being held fully accountable for their actions,” said Santa Cruz Police Department Chief of Police Howard Skerry.

    The FBI said it plans to pursue the full extent of the law against Pope, Sumpo, Khajavi and Buddenberg.

    “With so many legal options to make their voices heard and to effect policy change, it is inexcusable and cowardly for these people to resort to terrorizing the families of those with whom they do not agree,” said Charlene B. Thornton, special agent in charge of the FBI’s San Francisco office.

    Several law enforcement agencies, including the Santa Cruz Police Department and the UC Santa Cruz Police Department worked on the investigation to find and arrest Stumpo, Pope, Buddenberg and Khajavi.

    Pope and Stumpo were arrested Thursday in Charlotte, N.C., Buddenberg was arrested at an Alameda courthouse Friday morning and Khajavi was arrested in Oakland, authorities said.

  2. […] vs. Terrorism: The Case Against AETA As one commenter recently noted, 4 animal rights activists were recently arrested and charged with suspicion of terrorism for their […]

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