Two Valley residents indicted
By Jeff Barnard and Robert Plain
A caregiver in a home for the developmentally disabled in Ashland and a millionaire wildland fighter who lives in the Greensprings appeared in court Thursday on federal arson charges alleging they firebombed two targets in acts claimed by the Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front.
Suzanne Nicole &
Savoie, 28, who works at the Evergreen House in Ashland and lives in the Applegate, and Jonathan Christopher Mark Paul, 39, of the Greensprings, were both ordered held without bail pending further hearings.
Paul offered a smile to friends and family who jammed the courtroom as he entered. As he exited after his hearing, his wife, Tamara Drake said to him, &
I love you Jonathan.&
Drake appeared composed during the hearing, but as she left, tears welled. She believes she is now a potential target to those who would seek revenge on environmental activists because the family&
s address was published by the media. Other than that she would not comment on her husband&
Savoie, who turned herself in to federal authorities on Thursday morning, was more stoic in court. A petite woman with long brown hair, she did not make eye contact with the people in the court room, many of whom were local residents offering support.
I know Suzanne to be a really caring and wonderful person,&
Anna Baumstark, of Talent, said after the hearing in front of the federal court house. She said Savoie was a member of her extended family. &
s very important that we all support her right now. We miss her and love her very much. The whole process is very complicated. I know Suzanne needs all the support she can get right now.&
A criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Eugene as part of the investigation of a series of Northwest arsons between 1996 and 2001 accused Savoie of serving as a lookout for the Jan. 2, 2001 fire that destroyed offices of Superior Lumber Co., a lumber mill in Glendale now known as the Swanson Group. The ELF claimed responsibility for that fire.
An article in this newspaper on Thursday said that Savoie admitted to an informant that she was involved in a conspiracy to commit the arson. In fact, the affidavit only claims that the informant is accusing her of this.
Paul, the firefighter, is accused in a similar complaint of setting firebombs that burned down the Cavel West horse slaughterhouse in Redmond on July 21, 1997. The ALF claimed responsibility for that fire, which caused an estimated $1 million in damage.
Both face five to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.
The FBI arrested Paul on Tuesday at the Greensprings Inn, said FBI spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele. Savoie turned herself in to the FBI on Thursday.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas Fong argued that Paul presented a high flight risk and a danger to society due to the nature of the charges and the fact that he had a trust fund and other assets worth $1.7 million, which would allow him to post a $400,000 bond and still have plenty of cash to flee.
Defense attorney Stu Sugarman countered that Paul has lived openly in southern Oregon for nine years, had a wife and family, and demonstrated in the past that he was willing to surrender to authorities rather than hide.
In 1993, Paul spent five months in jail for contempt of court in Spokane, Wash., for refusing to testify in the investigation of another ALF case, a 1991 raid that caused $100,000 in damages to U.S. Department of Agriculture offices at Washington State University in Pullman, Wash. He was released after a judge concluded imprisonment would not persuade him to talk.
When Paul was arrested, his first concern was to be sure his five dogs and cats were cared for, Sugerman added. Sugarman argued that the only evidence is testimony from people facing lengthy prison terms for their own involvement.
According to an FBI affidavit, an unidentified informant involved in the horsemeat packing plant fire told investigators that Paul and an unidentified woman set the blaze using five-gallon plastic buckets filled with a mix of gasoline, diesel oil and soap that were ignited by an electronic timer. The buckets have been a signature of ELF and ALF fires.
Paul prepared the fuel mix, adding soap shavings so it would form a gel and burn more slowly, the affidavit said. They did a dry-run a week before. The night of the fire, one of the buckets went off unexpectedly, igniting a fireball, and two didn&
t ignite, according to the affidavit.
Cavel has been criticized by animal-rights groups for slaughtering wild horses rounded up from U.S. Bureau of Land Management lands in the West. The Belgian-owned company never rebuilt the Redmond plant, but continues to operate one in DeKalb, Ill.
U.S. Magistrate John P. Cooney agreed to hear arguments Friday whether to grant bail to Savoie.
Federal defender Tonia More argued that Savoie knew she was a suspect since December, when the FBI sent her a letter notifying her she was the target of a grand jury investigation, but she still turned herself in.
An FBI affidavit against Savoie said she was the girlfriend of Daniel McGowan at the time, and they both served as lookouts in the Superior Lumber fire. McGowan of New York City is being held in Eugene on charges he helped torch Superior Lumber as well as a tree farm in Clatskanie. Earth Liberation Front took responsibility for both fires.