EAST LANSING – The two men charged with felonies for their participation last April in a protest against nativist extremist leader Chris Simcox at Michigan State University pled guilty on Aug. 7 to misdemeanor charges in East Lansing’s 54B District Court.
Terry Olson, attorney for Jose Villigran, a 21-year-old MSU student, said his client took the plea deal because he wanted to get back home to his family in Texas. Villigran plead guilty to one count of a misdemeanor disrupting an educational event. The misdemeanor is an MSU ordinance.
Judge David Jordan agreed to sentence Villigran after the plea deal was reached. Villigran was sentenced to six months probation, hundreds of dollars in court fines and fees, and substance abuse screening. However, Olson said that Jordan dismissed the recommendations of the pre-sentencing department.
“He called this a crime of conscience and noted that my client was not drunk or under the influence when this occurred. He was acted on his conscious and I think that is a fair characterization,” said Olson. Jordan ordered Villigran to pay a fine of $100 and $40 for court costs as the penalty.
The Young Americans for Freedom group at Michigan State University responded almost immediately on its blog. Jason VanDyke, a Texas attorney who acted as master of ceremonies during the Simcox event and told activists they should “use” soap and work, wrote a lengthy piece attacking the judge’s ruling.
“MSU YAF strongly disagrees with the sentence imposed upon Jose Villegran. As an organization, we strongly disagree with a sentence of a fine and costs totaling less than $200,” VanDyke wrote in the blog. “The 54B District Court has essentially told a student who is nothing more than a thug (Villegran) – and a student organization comprised of criminals and thugs just like him (MEXA) – (a student group for hispanic students) that they have a free pass to disrupt YAF events in the same manner as they did on April 19 – and that even if they refuse to obey police in leaving, the consequences will be minimal. They can count on the school taking no action and the courts taking little, if any, action.
“This crime was not, as Villegran’s attorney suggested, a crime of conscience. Rather, it was a crime of terror,” VanDyke wrote.
Court records from the 54B District Court in East Lansing and Facebook conversations with VanDyke show that he stood before Judge David Jordan in 2000 and pled guilty to a misdemeanor weapons violation. He had his rifle in his vehicle on the opening day of hunting season, he said. He was placed on probation for the guilty plea.
In addition, during the Facebook conversation VanDyke, who is also a member of the online community, the Council of Conservative Citizens – another Southern Poverty Law Center-recognized hate group – admitted that prior to the arrest, police had seized racist literature from his dorm room. This apparently included a copy of “The Turner Diaries,” a novel about a race war in the United States.
The possession of the racist material caused Judge Jordan to revoke VanDyke’s original bond, citing the material as proof VanDyke was a threat to the community. VanDyke was re-released on bond with further stipulations. Parts of the case are under seal by the court and not accessible for review by the public.
Raul Perez, the other felony defendant in the case, will be sentenced at a later date. Neither Perez nor his attorney could be reached for comment.