Perjury charge v.s. Allison Lance-Watson, wife of Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2004:
SEATTLE–Allison Lance-Watson, 45, wife of Sea Shepherd
Conservation Society founder Paul Watson, was on January 14, 2004
arrested, briefly shackled, charged with lying to a federal grand
jury, and released pending a February preliminary hearing without
being required to post a cash bond.
Federal Bureau of Investigation special agent Fernando Gutierrez
alleged in a written complaint that Lance-Watson knew more than she
admitted about events that included a 2:30 a.m. arson at the
headquarters of Holbrook, Inc., a timber firm in Olympia,
Washington, on May 7, 2000, and the unauthorized removal of 228
chickens from 57 cages the same night at the Dai-Zen Egg Farm in
Burlington, Washington, a 30,000-hen complex located about two
hours’ drive to the north. The farm is not far from the intersection
of the primary route from Friday Harbor, home of the Watsons, to
the mainland and Interstate 5, which passes through Olympia.
The hen removals were claimed almost immediately in the name
of the Animal Liberation Front, via ALF press officer David
Barbarash, of Courtenay, British Columbia.
The arson was not claimed until June 1, when Earth
Liberation Front press officers Craig Rosebraugh and Leslie James
Pickering of Portland, Oregon, told news media that they had
received an anonymous fax stating that the fire was set by a
previously unknown entity called Revenge of the Trees.
At 8:30 a.m. on May 7, 2000, said Gutierrez, employees of
an AM/PM Mini Market in Rochester, Washington, 12 miles south of
Olympia, saw that the occupants of a Penske rental truck “dumped a
number of plastic bags containing clothes in a dumpster behind the
store.” They called the Thurston County Sheriff’s Department. A
deputy found five bags containing “three sets of dark clothes, two
black ski masks, three pairs of gloves, a wrapper from a pair of
bolt cutters and a wrapper of wire ties,” Gutierrez added.
The store security video camera enabled the FBI to identify
the occupants of the truck as Gina Lynn and Joshua Trentor.
“Both Lynn and Trentor have lengthy histories of involvement
in animal rights activism, including having participated in animal
releases,” Gutierrez wrote. Trentor had also been “arrested in
connection with ALF-claimed vandalism,” while Lynn would later
refuse to testify to a grand jury probe of alleged ALF activity.
The store video camera apparently also recorded the license
plate of the truck. The truck was allegedly rented by Allison Lance,
who was not yet Lance-Watson.
Lance was arrested in May 1999 with Paul Watson’s previous
wife, Lisa Distefano, for disrupting a whale hunt by members of the
Makah tribe, several days before the Makah killed a whale. Watson
identified Lance at the time as “my girlfriend,” having already
split with Distefano, although Distefano remained involved with the
Sea Shepherds until June 2000.
Lance was described to ANIMAL PEOPLE by another Sea Shepherd
crew member as a longtime animal rights activist who came from Orange
“In May 2000, the Watsons were hauling equipment between the
Southern California office of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
and the organization’s office in Friday Harbor. For that purpose,
said Paul Watson, they rented a Penske truck,” wrote Seattle
Post-Intelligencer reporter Paul Shukovsky.
Lance-Watson was first called before the grand jury in August
2003. She invoked her Fifth Amendment right to refuse to testify.
She was called again on October 23, given immunity from prosecution,
and told to testify or be charged with contempt of court.
Lance-Watson acknowledged speaking often with Gina Lynn, said that
the rented truck was never out of her possession, claimed she had
never allowed anyone else to use it, and denied that Lynn had ever
been in it.
The charge of lying to a federal grand jury carries a
potential penalty of five years in prison plus a fine of $250,000.
“I did not know anything about this incident and I still
don’t,” Watson told ANIMAL PEOPLE by e-mail from Friday Harbor. I
do not know what Allison knows about this incident and I do not
question her about it. I have absolutely no knowledge of her being
involved in any illegal activity,” Watson said, meaning in the U.S.
Lance-Watson was held for three weeks in Japan, along with
Sea Shepherd crew member Alex Cornelissen. after untying and sinking
the nets that held 15 dolphins pending slaughter at Taiji on November
18, 2003. Lance and Cornelissen were released on bail totaling
“I believe she is being questioned because of her association
with others who are under investigation and not for her actions,”
Watson continued. “The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is not
involved in any way with the incident under investigation. The Sea
Shepherds and myself are not the focus of any investigation.
“Allison was charged with one count of perjury,” Watson
acknowledged, but added, “The information filed by the federal
prosecutor specifically states that she is not a suspect in the
investigation [of the arson and chicken removal]. I don’t have any
concerns for Sea Shepherd or myself,” Watson insisted, “as we have
never been involved directly or indirectly with any illegal activity
in the United States,” although Rod Coronado, the most prominent
person convicted of ALF activity to date, was a former Sea Shepherd
crew member who severely damaged two Icelandic whaling vessels under
the Sea Shepherd banner in 1988.
“At the time of the  incidents we were not married,”
Watson continued, “and no such truck was rented with my credit cards
or personal checks and certainly not with a Sea Shepherd credit card
or personal check.
“Allison’s problem with the grand jury,” Watson claimed,
“is that she was resisting answering questions without the right to
have an attorney present, and this resulted in confusion and one
answer being interpreted as perjury. Allison’s lawyer, Stu Sugarman
of Portland, is confident that this count of perjury can be thrown
out, as it was based on a mis-interpretation of the process.”
Sugarman also represented Craig Rosebraugh when Rosebraugh
was called to testify before the House Resources Committee in
Washington D.C. in 2002.
Arsons, break-ins, and vandalism claimed by animal rights
groups slowed after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001,
but have intensified in the past 18 months. Federal efforts to catch
the perpetrators have intensified as well, using the expanded
authority given to law enforcement to investigate alleged terrorism.
Two west coast fugitives are particularly sought after:
* Michael Scarpitti a.k.a. Tre Arrow, is accused of
planning the arsons at a timber company and a cement company for
which Jacob D.B. Sherman, 21, of Portland, was on February 20,
2003 sentenced to serve 41 months in federal prison.
* The FBI in December 2003 announced a reward of $50,000 for
information leading to the arrest and conviction of Daniel Andreas
San Diego, 25. Originally from San Rafael, California, San Diego
was last seen in Schellville in early October 2003, soon after he
was charged with detonating two pipe bombs on August 28, 2003 at the
Chiron Corporation, a biotechnology firm located in Emeryville,
California, and another pipe bomb on September 26 at the Shakelee
Corporation, a personal care products manufacturer located in