SAN DIEGO–Animal-rights activist Nicole Kissane was sentenced in federal court today to 21 months in prison for terrorizing the fur industry during cross-country road trips in which she and co-conspirator Joseph Buddenberg caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage by vandalizing properties and releasing mink from commercial farms.
During Tuesday’s sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Larry Burns described 30-year-old Nicole Kissane’s conduct as a “calculated, premeditated reign of terror over those in the fur industry.” Judge Burns also ordered Kissane to pay $423,477 in restitution to the victims.
Kissane pleaded guilty on December 27 to Conspiracy to Violate the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. Joseph Buddenberg, 32, entered his guilty plea to the same charge earlier in the year, on February 9, 2016. He was sentenced on May 2, 2016 to two years in prison and $398,272 in restitution.
“Vandalizing homes and businesses with acid, glue and chemicals in the dark of night is a form of domestic terrorism,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Alana Robinson. “Whatever your feelings about the fur industry, these sentences are a pretty strong signal that this isn’t the right way to effect change.”
“Today’s sentence sends a message to those who commit crimes in an attempt to advance their personal agendas,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric Birnbaum. “The FBI and our Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) partners work together, share intelligence, and are able to connect cases to expose individuals engaged in this, or any, form of domestic terrorism.”
According to her plea agreement, Kissane admitted that during the summer and fall of 2013, she and Buddenberg caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage during their crime spree.
The couple were charged under the Conspiracy to Violate the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. They were arrested in Oakland by agents from the FBI’s San Francisco field office.
In one instance described in the indictment, the defendants traveled from Oregon to San Diego in their 2012 Honda Fit on July 15, 2013 and used paint, paint stripper, a super glue-type substance, butyric acid, muriatic acid and glass etchant to vandalize Furs by Graf, a retail furrier located in San Diego, as well as the Spring Valley and La Mesa residences and personal property of the current and former owners of the business.
To publicize their crimes, the couple drafted “communiqués” describing their conduct and posted them on websites associated with animal rights extremists, the indictment said.
Among some of the incidents of vandalism cited in the indictment: The couple slashed tires of a meat distributor’s truck in San Francisco; smashed windows and glued the door locks at a furrier business in Minneapolis, Minnesota; vandalized and attempted to flood the Sun Prairie, Wisconsin home of an employee of the North American Fur Auctions.