Seattle Woman Sentenced To 5 Years in Prison in Connection with UW Arson

SEATTLE – Jennifer L. Kolar, 33, was sentenced July 18 in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to five years in prison, five years of supervised release and $7,178,236 in restitution in connection with the May 21, 2001 arson at the University of Washington Center for Urban Horticulture. Kolar pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit arson, two counts of arson, one count of attempted arson and using a destructive device during a crime of violence. Kolar was part of a group which called itself “The Family,” responsible for a string of arsons and destructive crimes across the western United States claimed by the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and Animal Liberation Front (ALF). U.S. District Judge Franklin D. Burgess allowed Kolar to remain out of custody until the United States Bureau of Prisons orders her to report to a facility in late September, 2008.

Kolar was a participant in four eco-attacks: an arson at Cavel West in Oregon in July 1997; an attempted arson at the Wray Gun Club in Colorado in October 1998; an arson at the Susanville Horse Corral in October 2001; and the fire at the University of Washington Center for Urban Horticulture in May 2001. At the UW arson, Kolar admits she used a knife to cut the glass to gain entry to the office of Professor Toby Bradshaw. A destructive device was then placed in Bradshaw’s office. The fire destroyed the Center for Urban Horticulture. Priceless research and endangered plants were destroyed. It cost more than $7 million to rebuild the facility.

Shortly after being contacted by law enforcement in late 2005, Kolar agreed to assist the FBI by telling what she knew about the arson spree. Kolar testified at length against Briana Waters, who was convicted last March of Arson in connection with the fire at the Center for Urban Horticulture. Waters was sentenced last month to six years in prison.

Under the terms of her plea agreement, Kolar had to be sentenced to between five and seven years in prison, or either side could withdraw from the agreement. Prosecutors asked for a seven year term. “Kolar’s decision to cooperate, however, can never totally wipe the slate clean. She voluntarily became an important member of one of the most destructive domestic terrorist groups ever to prey upon the people of the Northwest. For over four years she chose, time and again, to engage in violent acts that destroyed millions of dollars in property and had a huge impact on numerous victims, many of whom are still suffering harmful effects from these senseless acts of violence,” First Assistant United States Attorney Mark Bartlett wrote in his sentencing memo.

In addition to Waters and Kolar, three others have been charged in connection with the UW fire. Lacey Phillabaum pleaded guilty and faces three to five years in prison when sentenced on August 19, 2008. Justin Solondz, 29, most recently of Jefferson County, Washington is charged with Arson, and Using a Destructive Device in a Crime of Violence. Solondz, a fugitive, is charged with Making an Unregistered Firearm (in this case an incendiary bomb) in Olympia, the day before the UW fire. Solondz is believed to be out of the country. William C. Rodgers (now deceased) also participated in the UW arson. Rodgers, of Prescott, Arizona, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Seattle, but committed suicide December 22, 2005, while being held in the Coconino County Jail in Prescott, Arizona.

This case was the result of a nine-year investigation of numerous arsons in the Northwest and elsewhere. In many of the fires the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and Earth Liberation Front (ELF) claimed responsibility. Participating in the extensive investigation were the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), the Eugene Police Department, the University of Washington Police Department and other state and federal law enforcement agencies.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Andrew Friedman and First Assistant United States Attorney Mark Bartlett. For additional information, please contact Emily Langlie, public affairs officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, Western District of Washington, at (206) 276-5288.

FBI July 18, 2008 press release

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