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Arson suspect surrenders.

Byline: Christian Wihtol The Register-Guard

One of three remaining fugitives wanted in a string of fires set by Eugene-based environmental extremists in Oregon, Colorado and California surrendered to authorities Thursday after years of hiding in Canada, federal officials announced Thursday.

Rebecca Jeanette Rubin, 39, turned herself in to the FBI at the Canadian border in Blaine, Wash., the U.S. attorney's office in Portland said.

Rubin was part of a cell of the Earth Liberation Front known as The Family, based in Eugene, authorities said. She was sought on charges that she took part in setting fires at a Vail ski resort in Colorado, at a timber company office in Medford, and at federal wild-horse corrals in Eastern Oregon and Northern California.

Ten others pleaded guilty in 2007 to conspiracy and arson and were sentenced to prison terms ranging from just over three years to 13 years. Two other defendants, Joseph Mahmoud Dibee and Josephine Sunshine Overaker, remain at large as international fugitives, the Justice Department said.

The crimes listed in the indictment against the group include the 1996 destruction of the Oakridge Ranger Station, the 2000 arson attempt at the Eugene Police Department's West University Public Safety Station, the fiery destruction of 35 SUVs at a Eugene truck lot in 2001, and the 1998 arson of the Vail ski resort that focused national headlines on the radical environmental movement.

Officials have said the Earth Liberation Front cell was responsible for 20 arsons around the West that did $40 million in damage.

The indictment said the group sought to influence the conduct of government, private business and residents through force, mass destruction, intimidation and coercion, and to retaliate against government and private businesses by those means.

The group disbanded in 2001, but a federal task force, Operation Backfire, used an informant to unearth the cell members. The leader, William Rodgers, ran a bookstore in Prescott, Ariz. He committed suicide in jail in 2005 after his arrest.

Authorities said Rubin is to appear in federal court in Seattle, then will be sent to Oregon for trial.

Rubin's Oregon charges include her alleged participation in the Nov. 30, 1997, arson at the U.S. Bureau of Land Management Wild Horse and Burro Facility in Harney County near Burns, and the Dec. 22, 1998, attempted arson at the offices of U.S. Forest Industries Inc. in Medford.

A Colorado federal indictment charges Rubin with eight counts of arson in the Oct. 19, 1998, fires that destroyed Two Elk Lodge and other buildings at the Vail ski area in Colorado.

An indictment in the Eastern District of California charges Rubin with conspiracy, arson and using a destructive device in the Oct. 15, 2001, fire at the BLM Litch field Wild Horse and Burro Corrals near Susanville, Calif.

Each count of arson and attempted arson carries a mandatory minimum term of five years in prison, up to a maximum of 20 years, the federal government said. Use of a destructive device in relation to a crime of violence carries a mandatory consecutive sentence of 30 years in prison. Conspiracy carries a maximum sentence of five years. Each count in the three indictments carries a potential fine of up to $250,000.

The case is being prosecuted in Oregon by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Peifer.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.
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Title Annotation:Local News; Rebecca Rubin has long been wanted in connection with a series of fires set by environmental activists
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Geographic Code:1U9OR
Date:Nov 30, 2012
Words:557
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