Woman pleads not guilty, denied bail over ricin letter sent to Trump

The Peace Bridge near Buffalo, N.Y., where Pascale Ferrier was arrested
The Peace Bridge near Buffalo, N.Y., where Pascale Ferrier, a Canadian accused of mailing a package containing the poison ricin to the White House, was arrested.
(Jeffrey T. Barnes / Associated Press)

A Canadian woman charged with making threats against President Trump by mailing a package containing the poison ricin to the White House was ordered held without bail Monday by a judge who cited “a very strong case” against her based on an indictment in Washington.

Pascale Ferrier, 53, who is from a Montreal suburb, was arrested Sept. 20 as she tried to enter the U.S. through a border crossing between Fort Erie, Ontario, and Buffalo, N.Y. Her lawyer entered a not-guilty plea on her behalf Monday.

In Buffalo, U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder Jr. said Ferrier was an ongoing threat to Trump and others, citing a long history of assassinations and attempted assassinations of U.S. presidents since the killing of Abraham Lincoln.

Schroeder also read from a letter that prosecutors allege Ferrier wrote to Trump and included in the ricin-laden package. In the letter, Ferrier allegedly threatened to find a more dangerous poison or to use her gun to stop Trump from campaigning for reelection.

“It would appear to me the government has a very strong case, especially assuming the legal validity of the alleged admissions at the time of her arrest,” Schroeder said of Ferrier, who holds both Canadian and French citizenship.


He ordered her transfer to Washington to face the one-count indictment.

Authorities at the Pentagon found at least two packages suspected of containing ricin, a poison made from castor beans, a spokesman said on Tuesday.

The envelope containing the toxic substance and the threatening letter was addressed to the White House but was intercepted at a mail sorting facility Sept. 18. No one was harmed.

The FBI discovered that six additional similar letters appeared to have been received in Texas a few days earlier, according to a criminal complaint.

Ferrier’s lawyer, Fonda Dawn Kubiak, argued that she should be granted bail. “As Ms. Ferrier sits here today, she is presumed innocent,” Kubiak said.

She called her client “highly educated,” with the equivalent of a master’s degree in engineering in France, and said she was employed by an aircraft engineering company.

Kubiak said Ferrier could reside with her son in Quebec or possibly with family members in Texas.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Timothy Lynch said Ferrier was trying to enter the United States last week when an officer approached and asked if she was OK.

“No, I’m wanted by the FBI for the ricin envelope,” he quoted her as responding.

He said authorities handcuffed her and searched her vehicle, in which they found a semiautomatic handgun loaded with seven rounds of ammunition, nearly 300 rounds of other ammunition, pepper spray, a knife and a stun gun.

“She was loaded for bear, Judge,” the prosecutor said.

He said that ricin had been found at her apartment outside Montreal and that she was likely to face additional charges in Washington, Texas and Buffalo.