Amish Bishop Sam Mullet appeals convictions and new sentence for beard-cutting attacks

Cleveland, Ohio -- Samuel Mullet, the Amish bishop convicted as the ringleader for a series of beard-cutting attacks, has again appealed his criminal convictions and a new sentence handed down last week.

Mullet, 69, filed his appeal request Monday. He is contending that U.S. District Judge Dan Polster should not have considered any kidnapping accusations when Mullet was re-sentenced, since the kidnapping was part of the hate-crime convictions the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed in August.

He also claims that since he believes the hate-crime charges are unconstitutional, he should not be convicted of concealing evidence and lying to an FBI agent. If the charges are unconstitutional, then the obstruction and lying charges would not have been brought in the first place, said Mullet's attorney, Assistant Federal Public Defender Ed Bryan.

Bryan said he hopes the case can be heard and decided "relatively quickly," since the issues were brought up -- but not decided -- the last time the 6th Circuit heard the case.

"I'll be comfortable when Sam Mullet's home with his community," Bryan said.

In a submitted statement, U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach said, "we continue to agree with Judge Polster that the broader community is far safer with Mr. Mullet right where he is."

Polster re-sentenced Mullet and 15 of his followers March 16. Eight had already been released from prison, and the judge sentenced them to time served.

For the eight who still were incarcerated, Polster reduced each sentence by a little less than a third. Mullet's original sentence was 15 years, and it was reduced to 10 years, nine months.

Dettelbach said after the sentencing that he would not re-try the defendants on the overturned hate-crime charges.

Bryan said Sam Mullet is still being held at the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center in Youngstown. He also said Sam Mullet's son, Daniel, and Emanuel Shrock, have been released.

Also on Wednesday, Levi Miller and Lester Mullet, whose sentences were reduced from seven years to five, filed their appeals.

The defendants are members of a breakaway sect of the Amish community made up of 18 families. They were convicted of multiple crimes in September 2012 for carrying out five nighttime raids.

In the attacks, members of the community rousted five victims out of bed and chopped off their beards and hair with horse mane shears and battery-powered clippers. The attackers documented the attacks with a disposable camera.

Prosecutors said the attacks were carried out at Mullet's behest. Witnesses portrayed him as a fire-and-brimstone preacher who imposed strict, and often bizarre, discipline on his flock.

Beards and long hair are sacred symbols of Amish followers' devotion to God, and to cut them is humiliating.

News of the attacks made national headlines and raised questions about the federal hate-crimes law, which carries much harsher sentencing enhancements.

The appeals court overturned the hate-crime convictions because of what it said was issues with Polster's jury instructions.

When re-sentencing the defendants, Polster took into consideration the conduct that led to the hate-crime charges, telling them "you chose a method that was particularly calculated to inflict trauma on (the victims) because they are Amish."