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  • Eco-terror defense optimistic

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  • Greensprings man's chances could benefit from another's plea deal in ALF arson case
    Jonathan Paul's defense against eco-terrorism charges did not necessarily sour this week when a second co-defendant agreed in court to cooperate in his prosecution for a 1997 arson in Redmond on behalf of the Animal Liberation Front, a member of Paul's legal team said Friday.
    Conflicting statements by co-defendants in the Cavel West meat-packing arson, one's relatively light recommended sentence and the spectre of witnesses looking to "save their own rear" on the witness stand might actually bolster Paul's defense, Eugene attorney Lauren Regan said.
    "It's not necessarily an entirely negative thing," Regan said. "In some ways, what happened this week has a positive twist as well."
    That's Regan's view of the fallout from Wednesday in Tacoma, Wash., where Jennifer Lynn "Diver" Kolar, 33, of Seattle agreed in federal court to accept a sentence of five to seven years in federal prison for her role in the Cavel West arson as well as a University of Washington firebombing and an attempted arson in Colorado.
    Her plea includes pledges to assist federal agents and prosecutors investigating what they have called a series of eco-terrorism crimes on behalf of the ALF and the Earth Liberation Front. The Department of Justice must first transfer Kolar's Cavel West indictment from U.S. District Court in Eugene to federal court in Tacoma before Kolar can plead to that case, Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Peifer said.
    Peifer acknowledged that Kolar's plea agreement requires cooperation with prosecutors, but he said it does not specify cooperation in Paul's prosecution.
    Peifer also declined to comment on the effect of Kolar's plea, citing Paul's pending trial.
    Kolar was the eighth person in Oregon and Washington to plead to federal charges and agree to assist the government in its "Operation Backfire" investigation of the alleged ALF/ELF criminal conspiracy.
    Four more indicted co-conspirators have remained fugitives, one committed suicide in jail and four &
    8212; including Paul, 40, of the Greensprings &
    8212; have been awaiting trial.
    Kolar joined co-defendant Kevin Tubbs, 37, of Springfield, in pleading to arson charges in the Cavel West case. Unindicted co-conspirator Jacob Ferguson of Eugene also has cooperated with the government's probe into an arson that ALF claimed was to stop Cavel West's slaughter and shipment of wild horses.
    Federal indictments allege that Paul and fugitive Joseph Dibee took part in the arson.
    Regan said she expects Kolar's assistance in Paul's prosecution.
    "There are four non-cooperating (ALF/ELF) defendants in Oregon and Jonathan is the only defendant left in the Cavel West incident," Regan said.
    Court papers filed by the federal government Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Eugene allege that Paul and Kolar together prepared a mixture of soap and petroleum that was the fuel used in the ALF/ELF's signature time-delayed incendiary device for the Cavel West arson.
    Documents allege that all five went to Cavel West on July 21, 1997, to place the devices that eventually caused more than $1 million in damage to the plant, which was not rebuilt.
    In later claiming responsibility for the crime, an ALF letter stated the fire was to "bring to a screeching halt what countless protests and letter writing campaigns could never stop."
    Paul's original Oct. 31 trial date has been postponed, likely until next spring, Regan said.
    Indictments also charge Paul and others to be part of an overall ALF/ELF conspiracy responsible for crimes causing more than $27 million in damage.
    Peifer declined to say whether any others will be charged. But he said the ALF/ELF federal investigation will continue.
    Regan said she does not know of any other potential co-defendants in the Cavel West case.
    Regan said she has known that Kolar was cooperating with federal authorities since December. Regan declined to say whether Paul and Kolar were acquainted.
    Regan said she believes Kolar's testimony will appear tainted in court because the whittling of her sentence from a maximum of 25 years to the recommended 60 to 84 months shows her cooperation was "attempting to work off her debt."
    "When someone is motivated by saving their own rear they will say just about anything," Regan said.
    Regan said statements to investigators by Tubbs, Kolar and Ferguson &
    8212; evidence which has been turned over to Paul's defense team as part of pre-trial motions &
    8212; show substantial differences in their accounts of the Cavel West incident. She declined to elaborate.
    Kolar remained free without bail pending sentencing.
    Paul remained free on bail.
    Reach reporter at 776-4470, or e-mail .
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