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  • Eco-arson indictment delivered

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  • Email — Story to a Friend — — — — May 13, 2006
    From staff and wire reports
    SEATTLE &
    8212; A new grand jury indictment returned Thursday alleges that five people were behind the firebombing of the University of Washington's horticulture center in May 2001.
    Only one of the five, Briana Waters of Berkeley, Calif., had previously been indicted in the case. The new indictment in U.S. District Court in Seattle also named Justin Solondz, 26, formerly of Jefferson County, Wash., and William C. Rodgers, of Prescott, Ariz., who committed suicide in jail after being charged with other acts of eco-sabotage. Two others referred to in the indictment were not identified.
    In January, the Department of Justice announced a 65-count grand jury indictment against numerous defendants, charging them with arson and conspiracy in connection with several arson attacks. Greensprings resident Jonathan Paul, 40, and Applegate Valley resident Suzanne Savoie, 28, were among those charged.
    The government alleges that Paul, Savoie and the others were part of a broad conspiracy against various natural resource industry interests that began in 1996. Among the attacks included as part of the conspiracy are fires that destroyed the U.S. Forest Industries headquarters in Medford and Superior Lumber offices in Glendale.
    The UW fire, one of the Northwest's most notorious acts of eco-sabotage, was set early on May 21, 2001. The horticulture center, rebuilt at a cost of about $7 million, had done work on fast-growing hybrid poplars in hopes of limiting the amount of natural forests that timber companies log.
    The Earth Liberation Front, a shadowy collection of environmental activists, claimed responsibility five days after the fire, issuing a statement that said the poplars pose "an ecological nightmare" for the diversity of native forests.
    The Justice Department has said a nine-year investigation into vandalism, arson and ecoterrorism eventually uncovered a conspiracy involving at least two dozen people who held secret meetings around the West to plan their attacks. Most have been charged in Washington or Oregon.
    In the summer of 2000, following one such meeting in Tucson, Ariz., Solondz destroyed five acres of canola grown by Monsanto Corp. in Dusty, Wash., the indictment said. The following March, after another secret meeting in Olympia, he cut the bark on 800 hybrid poplar trees at three different Oregon State University locations near Corvallis.
    Then he, Rodgers, Waters and two others destroyed the Center for Urban Horticulture, the indictment said.
    Solondz is also facing indictment in California in connection with the Oct. 21, 2001, arson of the Bureau of Land Management Litchfield Wild Horse and Burro Corrals in Susanville. He is believed to have fled the country.
    Waters has pleaded not guilty. If convicted of conspiracy to use destructive devices to commit arson, she and Solondz would face at least 35 years in prison.

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