LOS ANGELES — Two animal rights activists were charged Monday with conspiracy, stalking and other crimes against researchers at University of California, Los Angeles and executives of a juice company.
Linda Faith Greene, 61, and Kevin Richard Olliff, 22, pleaded not guilty to the charges during their arraignment in Superior Court.
The Los Angeles County district attorney's office issued a statement calling the pair "alleged domestic terrorists" and describing them as associates of the Animal Liberation Front, an extremist animal rights group.
A county grand jury indictment was handed up March 27 and charged each with three counts of conspiracy to commit stalking, three counts of stalking, two counts of conspiracy to threaten a public officer or school employee and two counts of threatening a public officer or school employee. They were arrested Thursday.
The indictment alleges that an unnamed co-conspirator tried to place an incendiary device on the doorstep of UCLA professor Lynn Fairbanks' home in July 2006 but it was actually left at an elderly neighbor's house and failed to explode.
One of the overt acts in the conspiracy was Greene, acting as press officer for an animal rights Web site, posting a "communique" by the ALF which took responsibility for what it called a "moletov cocktail," according to the indictment.
Greene, Olliff and others conducted demonstrations at the professor's home and on the UCLA campus, during which they chanted threats through a bullhorn and disputed law enforcement claims that the wrong house was targeted, according to the indictment.
Greene is also accused of identifying Fairbanks as a "target" on a Web site, publishing her addresses and other personal information online.
The indictment alleges a similar campaign against a neurobiology professor, Dario Ringach, who later gave up primate research, citing harassment from animal rights activists and concerns for his young children.
A telephone message seeking comment was left Monday evening at the office of attorney David B. Rutan, who represented Greene and Olliff when UCLA got a temporary restraining order against animal rights activists.
Dr. Jerry Vlasak, an animal rights activist with North American Animal Liberation Press Office, said Monday that Greene and Olliff violated no laws.
"They're using their constitutional right to free speech. They're not breaking any laws or breaking in to sabotage or destroying vehicles or equipment," Vlasak said. "Everyone knows who they are. They're high-profile activists who never tried to hide their identities. Linda did TV interviews."
The indictment further alleges that Greene and Olliff stalked executives of Los Angeles-based POM Wonderful Juice Co., picketed at a corporate family picnic and conducted demonstrations at their homes.
Vlasak said the activists targeted POM because they believe the company was using animal experiments to support claims that pomegranate juice could improve erectile function in men with mild impotence problems.
A telephone message seeking comment from POM after hours was not immediately returned.
Greene was held on $450,000 bail and is due back in court Friday for a bail review hearing. Olliff was held on $460,000 bail.
Both defendants are scheduled for a pretrial hearing on May 20.
Over the past couple of years, animal rights activists have aggressively protested animal research at the homes of scientists.
Earlier this year, four people pleaded not guilty in connection with an attempted break-in at the home of a UC Santa Cruz breast cancer researcher in 2008. Last December, a man pleaded no contest to making harassing phone calls to UC San Francisco researchers at their homes and telling them that they would die the same way they made animals suffer.