Activists facing multiple felonies to return to Beaver County farm demanding inspection
(KUTV) -- Following a court appearance on Monday at 1:30 p.m. in Beaver County, five activists, who are accused of stealing a dying piglet from a Smithfield Foods' farm in 2017, are expected to return to the farm.
The California-based activists want to return to the heart of the matter to inspect the place, and demand the staff allow them to audit the farm to see if animal welfare has improved, according to a news release.
All five Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) defendants each face four felony charges and up to 60 years in prison for stealing the piglet during an "open rescue" investigation. The term "open rescue" refers to the activists willingness to reveal their identifies when the results of the investigation are made public.
Wayne Hansen Hsiung, 37, of Berkeley; Paul Picklesimer, 40, of Berkeley; Samer Thomas Masterson, 24, of San Francisco; Andrew George Sharo, 24, of Berkeley; and Jonathan Frohnmayer, 33, of Santa Clara are charged with engaging in a pattern of unlawful activity, two counts of burglary committed against an animal enterprise and theft of livestock, according to a news release.
The Utah Attorney General's Office filed charges against the activists in May.
The same five activists were also charged with stealing a turkey from a Utah farm.
Last year, DxE released video footage that showed abusive conditions inside of these farms like the Smithfield Foods' farm. The video showed piles of rotting, dead piglets; nursing sows with injured, bloody teats; and stressed, pregnant sows gnawing on stall bars.
One of the group's strategies is to identify apparently needy animals and take them from commercial facilities to a veterinary clinic and then to a sanctuary.
DxE also released video of the piglets being taken, one of whom they named Lily.
An employee of the farm, called Smithfield Foods, contacted authorities on July 6, 2017 to report the theft, court documents state. The employee reported to authorities that video had surfaced online allegedly showing the activists stealing the piglets.