Seattle woman gets 5 years for UW arson

Seattle woman gets 5 years for UW arson
TACOMA - A key participant in the 2001 arson that destroyed the University of Washington's Center for Urban Horticulture was sentenced Friday to five years in federal prison.

Jennifer L. Kolar, 33, of Seattle also was ordered to pay more than $7.1 million in restitution in connection with the fire, which also destroyed priceless research projects and endangered plants.

The sentencing, by U.S. District Judge Franklin D. Burgess, came after 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 calling itself "The Family," which was responsible for a string of arsons and destructive crimes across the western United States claimed by the Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front. She will begin serving her sentence in September.

Federal officials say Kolar was a participant in four eco-attacks - a July 1997 arson at Cavel West in Oregon, an attempted arson at the Wray Gun Club in Colorado in October 1998, an October 2001 arson at the Susanville Horse Corral and the fire at the UW Center for Urban Horticulture in May 2001.

In 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, which ignited the fire.

Kolar agreed to tell what she knew about the arson spree and to testify against Briana Waters, another participant in the UW arson, after she was found by federal law enforcement authorities in 2005. Her testimony was crucial in the conviction and sentencing of Waters to six years in prison.

Federal prosecutors welcomed Kolar's decision to cooperate, but still asked the judge for a seven-year sentence and said her testimony did not 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," said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Bartlett.

"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," he said.

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, is charged with arson, and using a destructive device in a crime of violence. Solondz, a fugitive, also is charged with making an unregistered firearm (an incendiary bomb) in Olympia the day before the UW fire. He 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 Dec. 22, 2005, while being held in the Coconino County Jail in Prescott, Ariz.