PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A Seattle man has pleaded guilty to federal arson charges involving a fire that destroyed an Oregon horse slaughterhouse more than two decades ago.
Joseph Dibee, 54, pleaded guilty Thursday in Portland, Ore., to federal arson and conspiracy to commit arson charges for his role in the fire that destroyed Cavel West, a slaughterhouse that transformed and sold horse meat in Europe, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.
Dibee also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit arson in California for his role in a 2001 fire that burned down a pole barn at a Bureau of Land Management wild horse facility near Litchfield.
Prosecutors said that in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Dibee joined a dozen animal rights and environmental activists in starting fires across the West.
In 2006, an Oregon grand jury indicted Dibee and several others in connection with the Cavel West arson. Dibee fled first to Syria, then to Russia.
He was arrested by Cuban authorities in August 2018 while traveling from South America to Russia. The FBI transported Dibee to Portland, where he was arrested and detained. Since 2021, Dibee has been housebound in Seattle caring for his elderly father.
Dibee has long disputed the government’s characterization of his actions as domestic terrorism.
Dibee will be sentenced at the end of July. As part of a plea deal, the Justice Department dropped arson charges against Dibee in Washington state. He also agreed to pay restitution, with the dollar amount to be determined at sentencing.
The US Department of Justice recommends Dibee serve 87 months in prison. He is expected to seek a lighter sentence.
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