Activist pleads guilty in Ohio for P&G HQ protest

Updated at: 09/08/2014 9:52 AM
DAN SEWELL

(AP) CINCINNATI - CINCINNATI (AP) — One of nine Greenpeace activists charged in a protest at Procter & Gamble Co. headquarters pleaded guilty Monday to a single felony count.

Charles Long, 35, of Chicago, pleaded guilty to breaking and entering, a low-level felony, in exchange for prosecutors dropping two more serious charges and agreeing he can perform community service and pay restitution as his sentence. Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Robert Winkler scheduled sentencing Nov. 12, after ordering a presentence investigation. Long's attorney said he has no criminal record.

Long said outside the courtroom he didn't want to discuss his decision, pending the sentencing. Greenpeace has blamed prosecution "scare tactics" for Long's plea because he didn't want to risk prison time. Prosecutors said after a March indictment that the protesters could each face more than nine years in prison if convicted.

Trial for the other eight activists is scheduled Oct. 27 on burglary and vandalism charges. Greenpeace says the activists were exercising their right to peaceful protest when they slipped past security into the consumer products giant's Cincinnati headquarters on March 4. Using ziplines while they were being filmed from a helicopter hovering nearby, the activists displayed huge banners from P&G's towers criticizing the company's use of palm oil supplies that the organization links to rainforest destruction.

Prosecutors have said the activists illegally entered the building, caused damage, and also forced police, fire and other emergency responders to be called out.

P&G has estimated damages, mainly to windows, at nearly $18,000 in court documents. Defense attorneys say the protest didn't cause anywhere near that kind of damage.

Palm oil is commonly used in such products as shampoo and cosmetics. P&G, maker of global brands such as Pampers diapers, Tide detergent, and Gillette shavers, announced April 8 it has adopted a "no-deforestation" policy for its palm oil supply and is taking steps to ensure it can trace it supplies.

Greenpeace praised P&G's announcement while saying more work needs to be done.

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