Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Snitches: Jen Kolar, and Lacey Phillabaum

Tacoma, Washington, US - Two government informants, Jennifer Kolar, 33, of Seattle, and Lacey Phillabaum, 31, of Spokane entered guilty pleas today in US District Federal Court for their role in the $7 million 2001 arson at the University of Washington. The action which was controversial even in radical environmental circles was claimed in the name of the Earth Liberation Front (ELF).

Kolar and Phillabaum each pled guilty to charges of conspiracy, arson and use of a destructive device. Kolar also pled guilty to an attempted arson charge for a failed 1998 firebombing that damaged a Wray, Colorado, gun club that organized a multistate turkey shoot.

Both have been cooperating with the FBI since last winter when the first seven arrests in a related Oregon case brought the investigation to the attention of the public. The two agreed to wear a concealed wire recording device and attempt to help the government gather evidence on suspects and are bound by their plea deals to do so beyond their terms of incarceration.

In exchange for their continued cooperation prosecutors have promised to ask U.S. District Judge Franklin Burgess to waive mandatory minimum sentences on the charges of arson, attempted arson and use of a destructive device. The bomb charge alone carries a statutory minimum of 30 years, and a maximum term of life. As long as the women continue to cooperate with the prosecution Kolar will be recommended a sentence of five to seven years and Phillabaum will face a recommended sentence of three to five years.

They will be expected to testify at the trial of Briana Waters, who is accused of participating in the UW arson, and possibly the trial of four others in Oregon. Kolar is expected to admit guilt to taking part in a July 1997 arson in Redmond that destroyed the Cavel West horse meat packing plant. Jonathan Paul, one of the four defendants in the Oregon case is also accused of participating in that action.

Phillabaum, a former Earth First! Journal editor, is known for her role as the narrator of the underground documentary film Breaking the Spell, which promotes property destruction and examines the 1999 Seattle WTO riots from the perspective of Eugene anarchists. During the hearing she was emotional, but declined to make a statement. She did thank Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Friedman as he left the courtroom.

Kolar has worked for a variety of animal rights and environmental causes throughout the years, including an effort to prevent the reestablishment of native whaling practices in Washington state. For the past six years she has spent much of her time sailing and racing a yacht, Manta Ray, an Olson 911 SE sail number 45, she co-owns. She is a chair of the Corinthian Yacht Club (CYC) of Seattle Large Boat Racing Fleet. She too declined to make a comment at the hearing.

Sentencing is scheduled for January 5, 2007, but is not likely to occur until after Water's case is concluded.