The mastermind of a plot to firebomb government property, cellular phone towers and power generation facilities in the name of the Earth Liberation Front has been sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison.
Eric Taylor McDavid of Auburn, California, was convicted on charges of conspiracy to damage or destroy property with fire and explosives in March, more than two years after he and two co-conspirators were arrested outside a retail store carrying shopping bags containing bleach, glass cleaner, rubber gloves and masks—items that can be used to make homemade bombs, according to an affidavit filed at the time by the FBI.
McDavid, along with Zachary O. Jenson of Monroe, Washington, and Lauren Weiner of Westchester County, New York, plotted on behalf of Earth Liberation Front (ELF), the most active environmental extremist movement in the United States, to damage or destroy government and privately-owned commercial property. Their targets included the Forest Service Institute of Forest Genetics, the Nimbus Dam and Fish Hatchery, cellular phone towers, power generation facilities, and banks and commercial trucks.
Prior to their arrest in January 2006, the three defendants, along with a paid FBI informant posing as an ELF sympathizer, stayed in a cabin that had been rigged by the FBI for audio and video surveillance.
In the months between November 2005 and the arrest, they had scouted several of the planned targets and purchased explosive-making materials—including bleach, a gasoline can, a car battery, potassium chloride, gunpowder, and trick party candles to construct a fuse and several other items—and mixed the ingredients in accordance with instructions they had obtained for creating an explosive.
The threesome was arrested after purchasing additional bomb-making materials on January 13, 2006. During the arrest, FBI agents took a notebook from McDavid that contained drawings of pipe bombs, lists of ingredients for creating homemade explosives and drawings of the U.S. Forest Service's Institute of Forest Genetics in Placerville, the affidavit said.
Jenson and Weiner agreed to cooperate in McDavid's prosecution when they each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to destroy federal property in 2006 (Jenson in July, Weiner in May). Both are scheduled to be sentenced in August 2008.
McDavid, who faced up to 20 years in prison, received 19 years and seven months during his May 8 sentencing in Sacramento. He is currently serving his sentence at Victorville Medium II, a federal correctional facility in Adelanto, California.