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Final suspect in ecosabotage attack at UW pleads guilty

TACOMA, Wash. – The final suspect in a 2001 Earth Liberation Front arson attack in Seattle plead guilty Tuesday. Justin Solondz, 32, reached a plea deal with the government. A federal judge in Tacoma has approved a deal that could give Solondz a 7-year prison term.

Justin Solondz plead guilty in a strong, clear voice to one count of arson and one count of conspiracy. He admitted to assembling the firebombs that destroyed a research building at the University of Washington ten years ago.

At the time, the radical Earth Liberation Front took credit for the attack to protest genetic engineering. Defense attorney Michael Nance says his client takes responsibility for making "a really bad choice."

"I think that he does regret that this occurred. I think if he could rewind the clock, he would do things very differently," Nance said.

Nance and prosecutors have agreed to recommend a 7-year prison term when Solondz is sentenced in March.

The former Olympia resident is the fifteenth person to plead guilty to crimes claimed by a cell of the Animal and Earth Liberation Fronts. The shadowy cell is blamed for a long string of sabotage and arsons across the Northwest from the mid-1990's through 2001.

Tom Banse covers national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reports from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events are unfolding. Tom's stories can be found online and heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.