Amish cult leader re-sentenced to 129 months

WKY-TV Channel 3 News, Ohio/March 2, 2015

By Kim Wendel

Cleveland, Ohio -- On a sunny but cold Monday, federal prosecutors and defense attorneys gathered in U.S. District Court Judge Dan Polster's courtroom.

Just after 3:30 p.m., Polster re-sentenced Amish cult leader Samuel Mullet Sr. to 129 months in prison, down from the original sentence of 180 months.

He re-sentenced Amish cult members Johnny Mullet to 60 months; Lester Mullet to 60 months; Levi Miller to 60 months; Eli Miller to 60 months; Lester Miller to 43 months; Emanuel Schrock to 43 months; and Daniel Miller to 43 months.

The remaining eight members -- all women -- were re-sentenced to time already served.

Polster is to re-sentence 16 of the convicted defendants from 2012 after an appeals court overturned their sentencing back in August 2014.

Outside the courthouse, at least one man was there to support the Amish.

A picture outside a courthouse about 114 miles from where the 16 were found guilty of beard- and hair-cutting attacks may speak volumes.

But during the 2012 trials, it was a different set of pictures that federal prosecutors used to show what happened down in several counties.

All of the defendants, including Bergholz 'cult' leader Samuel Mullet Sr., pleaded not guilty to charges that they forcibly cut the beards and hair of Amish men and women.

The five cutting attacks on a total of nine victims took place between September and November 2011 -- Sept. 6, Sept. 24, two on Oct. 4 and one of Nov. 9.

During the trials, prosecutors used pictures of horse mane shears allegedly used in the multiple attacks against other Amish.

Other exhibits included a camera allegedly used to photograph the victims' appearances, hair from the victims and transcripts of jailhouse calls by some of the defendants.

WKYC's Dick Russ was the first reporter to track down Mullet in Bergholz in October, 2011, only days after the second and third of the attacks had taken place.

WKYC was the only TV station that managed to interview Samuel Mullet Sr. Russ interviewed Mullet Sr. as Mullet Sr. sat atop a bulldozer on his 880-acre farm in Bergholz.

At the time of Russ' interview, Mullet Sr. had not been charged with a crime.

In the Oct. 9, 2011 interview, the leader of a break-away Amish sect denied he had anything to do with a series of beard-cutting attacks which took place in several counties in eastern Ohio in September and October 2011.

One more attack occurred later in November.

Mullet Sr. did admit that he knew about the raids, in which Amish men have their beards cut off, and Amish women and men have had their hair cut, but had nothing to do with the incidents.

Additional exhibits included letters from one of 16 defendants and video and audio recordings of interviews with other defendants

Prosecutors even used some video footage taken by WKYC when Samuel Mullet Sr. was interviewed.

The trial centered on leader Samuel Mullet Sr., then-66, who was found guilty of planning the attacks in October-November 2011 in several Ohio counties in a dispute over religious differences.

Besides conspiracy, the jury convicted Mullet Sr. on six additional charges, including lying to the FBI on Nov. 22, 2011, when asked about the attacks. Jurors acquitted him on two other counts, destroying a bag of hair brought back from one of the attacks and the Sept. 24, 2011, attack on David Wengard.

In fact, Count 3, the attack on Wengard, saw none of the other three defendants charged in that count guilty.

WATCH VIDEO | Prosecution: Amish verdict a triumph for freedom of religion

Defense attorneys had conceded the hair cuttings took place but argued that the government was overreaching by calling what happened hate crimes. They argued the cuttings were merely personal family disputes, so-called "family feuds."

The original sentencings took place in January 2013.

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