ECO-TERRORIST SENTENCED IN ARSON CASE
U.S. Department of Justice
LANSING, Mich. – Marie Jeanette Mason , 47, of Cincinnati, was sentenced today by Chief U.S. District Judge Paul L. Maloney to serve 21 years and 10 months in federal prison for her role in the Dec. 31, 1999, arson of Agriculture Hall on Michigan State University’s (MSU) main campus in East Lansing, Michigan, as well as for a Jan. 1, 2000, arson of commercial lumbering equipment near Mesick, Mich., U.S. Attorney Donald A. Davis announced.
Mason, who committed the arsons on behalf of the radical environmental group known as the “Earth Liberation Front” (ELF), was also ordered to pay over $4 million in restitution to MSU and to victims of other similar acts of arson in Eastern Michigan and Southern Indiana in which she participated between 1999 and 2003. Finally, Chief Judge Maloney ordered that Mason remain on supervised release for life upon completion of her prison sentence.
In targeting Agriculture Hall, Mason and her criminal associates had sought to destroy or disrupt federally funded research that was being conducted into genetic modification of crops for the purpose of feeding Third World populations. In the years preceding the arson, MSU researchers had received approximately $20 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). In the view of the ELF, such genetic modification was harmful to the natural environment.
In imposing the sentence, Chief Judge Maloney observed: “We can't let ideas and dialogue be beat by fear and intimidation.”
Commenting on the sentences, Andrew G. Arena, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Detroit field office, stated: “Investigating and preventing criminal environmental extremism is one of the FBI’s highest domestic terrorism priorities. The FBI will not tolerate any group that terrorizes the American people, no matter its intentions or objectives. The FBI is committed to working with our partners to disrupt and dismantle these movements, to protect our fellow citizens, and to bring to justice those who commit crime and terrorism in the name of environmental issues.”
U.S. Attorney Donald A. Davis said: “In the United States, one does not resort to fear and intimidation to make a point or to effect change, but that is what the ELF is all about: violence, arrogance and self-righteousness. It takes time and effort to effect change legally, because other people and other institutions may have different priorities and different viewpoints. Rather than engaging those people and institutions with reason in broad daylight, ELF chooses to engage them with fire and violence in the middle of the night.”
The case was investigated by the FBI, the MSU Police Department, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Hagen W. Frank.