A federal judge took the first steps Thursday to allow bail for an eco-terrorism suspect accused of joining a foiled plot to conduct a Northern California bombing campaign on behalf of the Earth Liberation Front.
Magistrate Gregory G. Hollows agreed to release Lauren Weiner, 20, after her parents post a $1.2-million bond and prosecutors are given an opportunity to raise objections.
But the judge refused to grant bail to Weiner’s two co-defendants, 28-year-old Eric Taylor McDavid and Zachary Jensen, 20.
He declared the two men to be flight risks who could pose a danger to society. All three defendants pleaded not guilty Thursday.
In a 12-page written ruling, Hollows said that the sizable bail bond posted by Weiner’s parents would “supply enough of a hurt or sting” to provide a disincentive to keep the young woman from fleeing underground.
“This was a gigantic victory,” said Jeffrey S. Weiner, a Miami attorney and family relative representing the Philadelphia college student. “As far as I know it’s a done deal.”
Ellen Endrizzi, an assistant U.S. attorney, said prosecutors are still awaiting a chance to review all the financial paperwork concerning Weiner’s bond. Though the option to appeal the bail ruling remains, Endrizzi said it’s unlikely prosecutors will attempt to block Weiner’s release.
The three accused defendants are charged with scheming to manufacture explosives and discussing potential targets that included cell towers and power transmission lines around the northern part of the state, a Sacramento County dam, a nearby state fish hatchery and a U.S. Forest Service genetic testing lab.
A paid informant hired by the FBI befriended the trio and provided audio and videotapes as well as other reconnaissance about the alleged plot, according to court documents.
The FBI arrested the three suspects Jan. 13. In the days before, prosecutors allege, they had attempted to manufacture homemade bombs and began discussing potential targets.