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ALF / ELF Prisoner Justin Solondz Pleads Guilty to Arson

Investigators survey the UW arson

Five years since being indicted, Justin Solondz has pleaded guilty to making the incendiary devices used to burn down the University of Washington Center for Urban Horticulture. The fire was claimed by the Earth Liberation Front.

Solondz was also charged with the 2001 arson at a Susanville, CA BLM wild horse corral, claimed by the Animal Liberation Front. It was not immediately clear if his guilty plea resolved that charge as well.

He expects a seven-year prison sentence as part of a deal with prosecutors. Sentencing is set for March 16.

Solonz was indicted in 2006 along with 17 others as part of the “Operation Backfire” indictment (also called “The Green Scare” case), which brought charges for 17 ALF and ELF arsons going back to 1996.

As a fugitive, he was arrested in China on what allegedly were drug charges. Solondz spent 2.5 years in a Chinese prison, before being extradited to the United States. Earlier this year, his former girlfriend and co-defendant Briana Waters agreed to testify against him in exchange for a lenient sentence.

Three people charged in Operation Backfire remain fugitives.

– Peter Young

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