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North Van ‘eco-terrorism’ suspect to plead guilty to some, not all, charges

Rebecca J. Rubin - Submitted photo
Rebecca J. Rubin
— image credit: Submitted photo

A North Vancouver woman who became one of the FBI’s most wanted after her alleged involvement in the largest case of “eco-terrorism” in United States history, will plead guilty to some but not all of the charges against her, according to her lawyer.

Rebecca Jeanette Rubin, 39, is now being held at Federal Detention Center Sea-Tac, about 20 kilometres south of Seattle, Wash., awaiting transport to Eugene, Oregon to face charges of federal arson, use of a destructive device and conspiracy spanning Oregon, Colorado and California.

“At some point we anticipate she’ll be pleading guilty to some of these charges,” Rubin’s U.S. defence attorney Rick Troberman told The Outlook Tuesday. “We have the framework of a resolution in place but there’s still some things that have to be worked out.”

Rubin turned herself in to U.S. authorities at the Peace Arch border crossing Nov. 29, in accordance with a pre-arranged agreement Rubin made with Troberman, her Vancouver lawyer Ian Donaldson and the FBI.

Her surrender ended nearly seven years on the run as an international fugitive, wanted for her alleged connection to violent attacks carried out by extremist environmental groups, the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and Animal Liberation Front (ALF).

As recently as 2010, Rubin was thought by U.S. authorities to have returned to Canada and possibly have been living in the Nelson, B.C. area. While both Troberman and Donaldson had contact with Rubin throughout the past three years, neither would say where she had been living during that time.

Rubin was until her surrender the subject of a $50,000 reward for information leading to her capture.

In Oregon, Rubin is alleged to have been one of 13 ELF and ALF members suspected of involvement in 20 acts of arson between 1996 and 2001, spanning five states.

Those charges include Rubin’s suspected participation in the November 30, 1997 arson at a federal wild horse facility in Harney County, Oregon and a December 22, 1998, attempted arson at a federal forestry office in Medford, Oregon, according to the FBI.

In Colorado, Rubin is charged with eight counts of arson in the October 19, 1998 fires that caused several million dollars worth of damage and destroyed several buildings at the Vail ski area.

In California, Rubin stands charged with conspiracy, arson, and using a destructive device in an October 15, 2001 fire at another federal wild horse management centre near Susanville, California.

A federal indictment against both groups alleges the ELF and ALF sought to influence and affect the conduct of government, private business, and the civilian population through force, violence, sabotage, mass destruction, intimidation, and coercion.

In August 2007, 10 other defendants in the case received prison terms ranging from three years to 13 years after pleading guilty to conspiracy and multiple counts of arson in the same Eugene court.

Two other defendants, Joseph Mahmoud Dibee and Josephine Sunshine Overaker, remain at large as international fugitives, according to the FBI.

Each count of arson and attempted arson carries a mandatory minimum term of five years in prison, up to a maximum of 20 years.

Use of a destructive device in a violent crime carries a mandatory consecutive sentence of 30 years in prison. Conspiracy carries a maximum sentence of five years.

Each count in the three indictments carries a potential fine of up to $250,000.

The massive ELF-ALF conspiracy investigation, known as Operation Backfire, was jointly investigated by the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Oregon State Police, the Oregon Department of Justice, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, the Eugene Police Department and the Lane County Sheriff’s Office.

tcoyne@northshoreoutlook.com

twitter.com/toddcoyne

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