U.S. goes after wages of PSU official to recoup restitution in eco-arsons of his radical youth
The U.S. government filed papers this week to garnish the wages of a Portland State University sustainability official to make him pay more in restitution for his youthful role in a pair of eco-anarchist firebombings.
Jacob D.B. Sherman, a 33-year-old husband and father of two, has distinguished himself as a scholar at PSU. He holds a master's degree and was student speaker at the school's 2012 commencement ceremony.
But long before that, Sherman went underground as an eco-saboteur for the Earth Liberation Front.
On Easter Sunday 2001, he and the famously barefoot environmental radical Tre Arrow, a one-time congressional candidate, set fire to three cement trucks at Portland's Ross Island Sand & Gravel as a protest against what they viewed as the company's despoiling of the natural world. The arson caused $210,000 damage.
Sherman was 19.
The two men later joined forces with two other underground saboteurs, planting gallon milk jugs filled with gasoline under log trucks and a front-end loader at Ray A. Schoppert Logging near Estacada. That arson caused $50,000 damage.
Sherman later confided to a girlfriend that he had helped set fire to some logging trucks and that the FBI was tailing him. When she mentioned that her dad was a deputy state fire marshal, he warned her not to tell him. But she did.
At the age of 20, Sherman was arrested, later convicted, and served nearly three years in federal prison. He got out in 2006, returned to college, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at PSU in 2010 and two years later earned his Master's of Science degree in Leadership and Sustainability Education.
Early last year, he was named the Institute for Sustainable Solutions coordinator of sustainability curriculum.
A federal judge ordered Sherman and his three coconspirators to pay a minimum monthly payment of $50 in restitution for the damages they caused at the two Oregon businesses. Sherman's end of the restitution was $55,100, and he still owes $43,804.
But earlier this week, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathleen Bickers filed a writ of garnishment against Sherman and named PSU as the garnishee. Sherman was given 10 days to respond.
"I've been paying my restitution and am committed to paying my restitution," Sherman told The Oregonian/OregonLive on Friday. "It's unfortunate the government has taken this step. I've been told that two codefendants are delinquent."
Earlier this year, the Portland Tribune carried a feature story about Sherman's transformation from a long-haired vegan, bumbling eco-arsonist bent on sabotaging corporations to a meat eating, marathon running family man who works within the system.
As it happens, one of Sherman's victims was Tribune owner Robert B. Pamplin Jr., who also heads the corporation that owns Ross Island Sand & Gravel.
Sherman explained that he has a family now, student loan debts, and has dutifully made the minimum $50-a-month restitution payments. He said he would pay more if he could afford to.
"I'm definitely not living the high life," he said.