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Trio Foiled in Their Plot to Attack Government and Private Property

SACRAMENTO, CA- United States Attorney McGregor W. Scott and FBI Special Agent in Charge Drew S. Parenti announced today that a federal grand jury returned a one-count indictment charging Eric McDavid, 28, of Foresthill, California, Zachary Jenson, 20 of Monroe, Washington, and Lauren Weiner, 20, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with conspiracy to damage and destroy property by fire and an explosive.

This case is the product of an extensive investigation by various federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies comprising the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), as well as assistance from the United States Forest Service and the California Department of Fire and Forestry.

According to Assistant United States Attorneys R. Steven Lapham and Ellen V. Endrizzi, who are prosecuting the case, the indictment alleges that McDavid, Jenson, and Weiner conspired between June 2005 through January 13, 2006, to maliciously damage or destroy, or attempt to do so, by fire and an explosive, government- and privately-owned and funded property. Targets included the United States Forest Service Institute of Forest Genetics, the Nimbus Dam and Fish Hatchery, cellular telephone towers, and electric power stations.

In furtherance of the conspiracy, McDavid, Jenson, and Weiner performed a number of acts. During the weekend of November 18-20, 2005, McDavid, Jenson, and Weiner met, in the presence of a confidential source, at a residence in Foresthill, California and conducted a planning meeting at which they identified potential targets of destruction. Following that meeting, Weiner ordered the book Poor Man’s James Bond, which contains instructions for creating explosive devices. That book was later seized from the defendants’ rented residence in Dutch Flat, California. As part of their plan, on January 10, 2006, McDavid, Jenson, and Weiner, in the presence of a confidential source, visited the Nimbus Dam and Nimbus Fish Hatchery, and later that day visited the United States Forest Service Institute of Forest Genetics, to perform reconnaissance on those prospective targets for destruction. On January 11, 2006, all of the defendants, in the presence of a confidential source, traveled to a store in Sacramento to purchase ingredients necessary for the creation of an explosive device, including three bottles of bleach, a hot-plate, glassware, a gasoline can, a car battery, and three jars of petroleum jelly. Finally, on January 12, 2006, Weiner and McDavid measured and heated bleach on a hot-plate at a rented residence in Dutch Flat, California, in order to create crystals necessary for an explosive device.

McDavid, Jenson, and Weiner were arrested on January 13, 2006 outside a retail store in Auburn, California.

“Eric McDavid and his co-defendants pose a grave risk to the safety of our communities. They would not hesitate to commit dangerous and life-threatening acts in the name of their extremist views,” said United States Attorney Scott.

“The FBI, along with member agencies of the JTTF, will continue to investigate individuals who cross the line between free speech and criminal activity in the name of their beliefs,” said SAC Parenti.

If convicted, the maximum penalty under federal law for each offense is imprisonment for at least 5 but no more than 20 years, a fine of $250,000, and a three-year term of supervised release.

The defendants are currently in custody at the Sacramento County Jail. Magistrate Judge Gregory H. Hollows has taken the bail issue for all three defendants under submission.

McDavid, Jenson, and Weiner will be in court again on January 26, 2006, at 2:00 p.m. before Magistrate Judge Hollows for arraignment on the indictment.

The charges are only allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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