Pipeline Protest Indictments

In this Monday, July 24, 2017, photo, Jessica Reznicek, left, and Ruby Montoya read a statement outside the Iowa Utilities Board building. Reznicek was sentenced to eight years in federal prison on Wednesday, while Montoya awaits sentencing, for damaging the Dakota Access Pipeline.

DES MOINES — One of the two women who damaged portions of the Dakota Access Pipeline has been sentenced to prison and ordered to pay nearly $3.2 million in restitution.

Jessica Rae Reznicek, 39, of Des Moines, was sentenced Wednesday to eight years in federal prison. She had taken a plea agreement and entered a guilty plea to one charge of conspiracy to damage an energy facility. The charge carried a possible sentence of up to 20 years.

In addition to prison time, Reznicek was ordered to pay $3,198,512.70 in restitution and will serve three years of supervised release following her prison term.

A co-defendant, Ruby Montoya, also of Des Moines, is awaiting sentencing.

Authorities said Reznicek and Montoya conspired with others to damage the Dakota Access Pipeline in several locations, including in Wapello and Mahaska counties.

According to court filings, Reznicek admitted to using an oxy-acetylene cutting torch and fires to cause damage to the pipeline. The acts occurred from Nov. 8, 2016, until May 2, 2017.

Richard Westphal, acting United States Attorney for the southern district of Iowa, called the crime an act of terrorism.

“This was a federal crime of terrorism,” Westphal said in a statement. “Criminal acts conducted on multiple instances, at multiple locations, over a sustained period of time, resulting in over $3 million dollars in ordered restitution.”

FBI Special Agent in Charge Charge Kowell also called Reznicek a terrorist in a statement, saying her sentence “should be a deterrent to anyone who intends to commit violence through an act of domestic terrorism.”

The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The Dakota Access Pipeline is a $3.8 billion pipeline that became operational in 2017. It spans 1,172 miles across the Dakotas and Iowa to an oil terminal in Patoka, Illinois.

Indigenous nations around the country opposed the pipeline, arguing it would impact the environment near tribal lands and threaten several Native American sites. Those protests included a months-long sit-in on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, where nearly 15,000 people were involved.

Kyle Ocker is the editor of the Ottumwa Courier and the Oskaloosa Herald. He can be reached at kocker@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kyle_Ocker.

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Kyle Ocker is a Centerville native and award-winning multimedia journalist. Kyle is currently the president of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council and vice president of the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association.

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