News and Press Releases

Defendant allegedly aided and abetted Arson – Investigation into Fire Continues

March 30, 2006

BRIANA WATERS, 30, of Berkeley, California, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Seattle in connection with the May 21, 2001 arson that destroyed the University of Washington Center for Urban Horticulture. WATERS was named in a two-count indictment charging Arson and Using/Carrying a Destructive Device During a Crime of Violence. If convicted, WATERS would face a mandatory-minimum 35-year prison sentence. WATERS is the first person charged in the Western District of Washington in connection with the arson at the University of Washington Center for Urban Horticulture. Thirteen people have already been charged in Oregon or Washington with a conspiracy to commit a series of related arsons across the west. The investigation into the UW arson continues.

“This is just one step as we attempt to bring to justice those responsible for the UW Urban Horticulture fire,” said John McKay, United States Attorney for the Western District of Washington. “As we move toward the five-year anniversary of that devastating blaze, I applaud the investigators who have worked so doggedly and diligently to put the pieces of the puzzle together.”

A federal grand jury in Eugene, Oregon, has already charged the following defendants in connection with the series of arson attacks: STANISLAS GREGORY MEYERHOFF, 28, DANIEL GERARD McGOWAN, 31, KEVIN M. TUBBS, 37, SARAH KENDALL HARVEY, 29, CHELSEA DAWN GERLACH, 28, NATHAN FRASER BLOCK, 25, JOYANNA L. ZACHER, 28JOSEPH DIBEE, 38; JONATHAN MARK CHRISTOPHER PAUL, 40, REBECCA RUBIN, 32; SUZANNE SAVOIE, 28; and DARREN TODD THURSTON, 34. WILLIAM C. RODGERS, 40, of Prescott, Arizona was indicted by a federal grand jury in Seattle in connection with the case, but committed suicide December 22, 2005, while being held in the Coconino County Jail in Prescott, Arizona.

These indictments and arrests were the result of a nine-year investigation of numerous arsons in the Northwest and elsewhere. In many of the fires the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and Earth Liberation Front (ELF) claimed responsibility. Participating in the extensive investigation were the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), the Eugene Police Department, the University of Washington Police Department and other state and federal law enforcement agencies.

An indictment contains allegations that have not yet been proven at trial beyond a reasonable doubt. Defendants are presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.

WATERS will be arraigned at 2:30 this afternoon in U.S. District Court in Seattle. The arraignment will be on the 12th Floor of the courthouse at 700 Stewart Street, in front of Magistrate Judge Monica Benton.

The Western Washington indictments are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Andrew Friedman and First Assistant United States Attorney Mark Bartlett. For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, Western District of Washington, at (206) 553-4110.

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