A California man who attempted to firebomb a luxury condominium project under construction in Pasadena, California, on behalf of the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), faces up to five years in federal prison.
Steven James Murphy, 44, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit arson in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on January 11, 2009. Murphy, who was linked to the 2006 incident using DNA evidence, admitted trying to set fire to the property using a homemade explosive made of cigarettes, matches and a gasoline-filled juice bottle, according to court documents.
Construction workers alerted the Pasadena Fire Department upon discovering the device, which had failed to ignite properly. Murphy also disabled the ignition switch of a tractor on the project site, which he vandalized with a message that read, "Another Tractor Decommissioned by the E.L.F."
Murphy indicated in his plea agreement that he wanted to "intimidate, coerce and inflict economic harm on individuals and entities" he perceived as posing a threat to the environment.
He carried out the attempted arson with another individual, listed in court documents only as an unindicted co-conspirator.
ELF, the most active environmental extremist movement in the United States, has claimed responsibility for numerous arsons against housing developments over the years. In March 2008, the ELF acronym accompanied a hostile message to real estate developers left at the scene of a large arson in a Seattle suburb that gutted several multimillion-dollar show homes.