Longform

Gorilla Warfare: Part 2

Page 3 of 3

Metzger jumped onto the end of Kehoe's sentence with, "You can bet on it!"
Many regarded the sentence Kehoe imposed as a rebuke to the government or an endorsement of Metzger's stance; thirteen months is at the low end of the guidelines, which had been set at between twelve and eighteen months. Endorsement or not, Metzger, a brash former federal prosecutor, began from that moment a spirited flow of denunciations of the government's conduct. In an April 20 letter to U.S. Attorney Roberto Martinez, Metzger railed against the pressure the government puts on defendants to become "snitches," saying the current emphasis on plea-bargains will make the U.S. a "nation of informants much the same as prevailed under the regimes of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin.

"[My] client became a super-snitch," Metzger went on. "His cooperation was not limited to his own case. Despite this, your office broke two written promises to make a 5K1 motion. During the sentence proceedings I stated that I was going to tell every defense lawyer in our nation not to enter any plea agreement with your office. Your office cannot be trusted."

Last Friday Metzger filed motions asking Kehoe to make a written determination of the credibility of the government's arguments for not granting Block a 5K1 motion and to reconsider his ruling that the government was not acting irrationally. He gave notice to the Eleventh Circuit on last Monday that Block will appeal the government's refusal to grant a 5K1 motion and the length of his sentence, among other points.

Lewis, meanwhile, faces criticism from all sides. "I think in view of the amazingly weak presentation by both the prosecution and the wildlife agents, it's a miracle anything was accomplished," says Shirley McGreal, chairwoman of the International Primate Protection League in Summerville, South Carolina, a group that was instrumental in getting the government to prosecute Block in the first place.

Block, Metzger, and their allies say the government's snub resulted from the considerable political pressure exerted by animal-rights groups, or possibly pressure from even higher up, such as a new presidential administration thought to be more attuned to ecological issues such as endangered-species preservation. "Rubbish," says Guy Lewis.

Block is not in prison yet, and it will be a long time before he is, if he is.

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Kathy Glasgow
Contact: Kathy Glasgow