[Ppnews] Marie Mason gets 22 years for '99 Mich. campus arson

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Feb 6 10:59:35 EST 2009

Woman gets 22 years for '99 Mich. campus arson

By ED WHITE – 17 hours ago

LANSING, Mich. (AP) ­ A radical activist who 
helped set a $1 million fire to protest research 
on genetically modified crops was sentenced 
Thursday to nearly 22 years in prison ­ even more 
than the prosecution recommended.

Marie Mason decided to "elevate her grievances 
beyond the norms of civilized society" through 
fire and destruction, U.S. District Judge Paul 
Maloney said. The case ­ which was prosecuted as 
domestic terrorism ­ was "about an abandonment of 
the marketplace of ideas," he added.

The explosion and fire caused more than $1 
million in damage to Michigan State University's 
Agriculture Hall on New Year's Eve 1999.

In her plea agreement, she also admitted causing 
an additional $3 million in damage through other 
acts from 1999 to 2003, including destroying 
homes under construction in the Detroit area and 
Indiana and setting fire to two boats owned by a man who formerly raised minks.

The 47-year-old Mason, of Cincinnati, had acted 
on behalf of the radical group Earth Liberation 
Front, or ELF, which has been implicated in a 
spate of similar crimes, mostly in the West.

She had pleaded guilty in September to conspiracy 
and arson after reaching a deal with prosecutors. 
The prosecution had been aided by Frank Ambrose, 
her former husband, who cooperated with the FBI.

The investigation was cold until spring 2007, 
when a man looking for scrap cardboard found gas 
masks, an M-80 explosive, maps and 
anti-government writings in a suburban Detroit trash bin.

They belonged to Ambrose, who apparently was 
trying to shed remnants of his past. The FBI 
searched his home, and he became an informant, 
blowing the whistle on himself and Mason and 
going undercover to record 178 conversations with other activists.

At MSU, Mason and Ambrose targeted a campus 
office that held records on research related to 
moth-resistant potatoes for poor parts of Africa. 
Computers, file cabinets and desks were doused 
with a flammable liquid. Vapors contributed to an 
explosion, and the fire got out of control.

The explosion burned Mason's hair and prevented 
her from finishing the message, "No GMO," on a 
wall, a reference to genetically modified organisms.

"Pure luck" prevented the couple from being 
killed, Assistant U.S. Attorney Hagen Frank said. 
"Did that deter Ms. Mason? Not one bit. She 
celebrated it. Her community celebrated it."

Prosecutors had recommended 20 years in prison 
for Mason ­ a term that would have been "the most 
onerous sentence imposed in a case of this sort," Frank said.

Speaking near the end of a three-hour hearing, 
Mason said she had been "misguided" and was sorry 
for those who were frightened by her actions. "I 
meant to inspire thought and compassion, not fear," she told the judge.

Maloney sentenced Mason to 21 years and 10 months 
in prison and described her as a "high risk" to repeat her crimes.

Defense lawyer John Minock said he would appeal 
the sentence. "I'm shocked," he said outside 
court. "It's grossly out of proportion to other cases."

Ambrose was sentenced in October to nine years in prison.

Two people who were aware of the arson but didn't 
report it were also sentenced Thursday. Aren 
Burthwick received 14 months in prison and 
Stephanie Fultz was placed on probation for two 
years and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service.

In an interview, U.S. Attorney Don Davis tipped 
his hat to Andy Wishaw, the man who alerted 
authorities to the unusual things he found in the trash bin.

"This case, like many other cases, was resolved 
through citizen interaction with law enforcement," Davis said.

Read a comprehensive background piece about Marie Mason here:

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://freedomarchives.org/pipermail/ppnews_freedomarchives.org/attachments/20090206/84abc7bd/attachment.html>

More information about the PPnews mailing list