Jessica Reznicek and Ruby Montoya in 2017. (RI photo)

The U.S. Court of Appeals has upheld the eight-year prison sentence given to a woman in 2021 after she admitted to damaging the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Jessica Reznicek pleaded guilty to conspiracy to damage an energy facility after admitting to vandalism in Buena Vista, Mahaska, and Wapello County that included taking a blowtorch to the pipeline. Reznicek argued she was motivated by saving the environment, and the district court erred by classifying her actions as terrorism.

The Appeals Court ruling says the district court would have imposed the same sentence without the terrorism enhancement. It says the district court sentencing considered Reznicek’s “laudable, though ultimately misguided, motivations,” as well as her encouragement of others to imitate her crimes, that her vandalism caused “a grave risk to others,” and that her crimes continued over a long stretch of time.

Another woman, Ruby Montoya, admitted to the vandalism along with Reznicek and reached a plea deal with prosecutors, but she has been fighting to withdraw her plea and take the case to trial.

Related stories:
Woman sentenced to prison for vandalizing Dakota Access Pipeline

Women who admitted to Dakota Access Pipeline vandalism now face federal charges

Two women take credit for vandalism along the Dakota Access Pipeline (audio)