Justin Solondz Pleads Guilty

21 Dec

UW Center of Urban Horticulture after May 2001 Fire

The man accused of building the firebomb used by Earth Liberation Front radicals to torch the University of Washington’s Center for Urban Horticulture in 2001 pleaded guilty this morning in U.S. District Court in Tacoma. Justin Solondz, 31, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and arson under a plea agreement with federal prosecutors, who agreed to recommend a seven-year prison sentence when Solondz is sentenced on March 16.

The man accused of building the firebomb used by Earth Liberation Front radicals to torch the University of Washington’s Center for Urban Horticulture in 2001 pleaded guilty this morning in U.S. District Court in Tacoma.

Justin Solondz, 31, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and arson under a plea agreement with federal prosecutors, who agreed to recommend a seven-year prison sentence when Solondz is sentenced on March 16.

A former student at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Solondz was arrested July 6 in Chicago after his expulsion from China, where he had been serving a prison term for selling drugs.

Solondz was a purported member of a cell of radical environmentalists known as “The Family” who are believed to have participated in a string of arsons and other sabotage that caused $80 million in damage in Washington, Oregon, California and Colorado. Prosecutors claimed that Solondz built a firebomb in a “clean room” behind a home in Olympia, transported it to Seattle and served as the getaway driver the night of the UW arson.

The firebomb was planted in the office of UW professor Toby Bradshaw at the Center for Urban Horticulture. Bradshaw was targeted because the arsonists believed, mistakenly, he was genetically engineering trees. [EF!J Ed. note: see correction below]

Damage from the arson was estimated at more than $6 million.

In June, Solondz’s former girlfriend, Briana Waters, pleaded guilty to charges of arson, conspiracy to use a destructive device, possessing an unregistered destructive device and the use of an explosive device in a crime of violence in connection with the arson. She agreed to testify against Solondz.

Two other women, Lacey Phillabaum and Jennifer Kolar, pleaded guilty to the UW arson and were sentenced to three and five years, respectively. [EF!J Ed. note: Kolar and Phillabaum also cooperated with the state by testifying against others arrested for  ELF actions. Further details about them and other are listed here.]

Also charged in the UW arson was William C. Rodgers, who committed suicide in an Arizona jail in December 2005.

Solondz was indicted in Washington state and California in 2006. The FBI issued a $50,000 reward in late 2008 for information leading to his arrest. At the time, the FBI said he might be in Canada, Europe or Asia.

He surfaced in Dali, a Chinese city popular with Western tourists, using a phony Canadian identification and an altered appearance. He was arrested in a drug investigation in March 2009 and was sentenced to three years in prison.

Article reposted from Seattle Times.

EF! Journal Editors’ note and correction: Bradshaw was indeed involved with genetic engineering of poplar trees at the time of the arson, which is plainly clear from the University of Washington website: “Toby Bradshaw, a research professor in the department of Botany, is just one of many UW professors using genetic modification in their research…” 

The Seattle Times article’s allegation that the “arsonists believed, mistakenly, he was genetically engineering trees” is an outright lie perpetuated by industry PR machines. The dispute was only a minor technical matter between the language of the ELF communique and the quote by Bradshaw himself—the ELF alleging that he was engineering trees for commercial release, Bradshaw claiming that his research would never leave the lab.

Meanwhile, the massive push by biotech lobbyists continues with the assistance of lackeys like Bradshow at their service, as does the battle to stop GE trees from spreading across the world (including the US.) Just ask groups like the Global Justice Ecology Project about AborGen.

2 Responses to “Justin Solondz Pleads Guilty”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The ALF ‘strikes’ in our neighborhood « …thoughts of a pregnant vegan - December 21, 2011

    […] jury resister Jordan Halliday lost his appeal….and ELF/ALF defendant Justin Solondz pleads guilty but does NOT cooperate…the ALF stay active worldwide.  all in all, a mixed […]

  2. BK/NY – Tuesday, April 10th – Letter-Writing for Eric Desouza and Justin Solondz « NYC Anarchist Black Cross - April 8, 2012

    […] dinner, this time focusing on two recently imprisoned comrades– Operation Backfire prisoner Justin Solondz and anti-fascist Eric […]

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