WASHINGTON — A Quebec woman accused of mailing poison to former president Donald Trump has pleaded guilty and agreed to a prison sentence of nearly 22 years.
Pascale Ferrier, 55, entered the plea Wednesday in United States District Court in Washington, D.C. She also pleaded guilty to eight charges related to similar biological weapons offences committed in Texas.
Judge Dabney L. Friedrich still needs to agree to the sentence recommendation of 21 years and 10 months in prison, with a hearing set for April 26.
Ferrier was arrested at a U.S. border crossing on Sept. 20, 2020 and charged with sending a letter to Trump containing the poison ricin, which was intercepted Sept. 18 before it was delivered to the White House.
U.S. authorities say Ferrier also sent letters containing ricin to eight law enforcement and corrections officials in Texas, who were connected to her arrest and detention in that state in the spring of 2019.
The U.S. Department of Justice said in a news release that court documents show Ferrier admitted to making deadly ricin at her home south of Montreal in September 2020.
"There is no place for political violence in our country, and no excuse for threatening public officials or endangering our public servants," U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Matthew M. Graves said in the statement. "We hope this resolution will serve as a warning that using our mail system to send a toxic substance and other threats of this type will cost you your freedom for many years."
According to prosecutors, the letter to Trump contained similar language to the letters sent to officials in Texas. The letter to Trump referred to the poison as a "special gift" and concluded with a threat to "find a better recipe for another poison, or I might use my gun when I’ll be able to come." The letters were all signed "Free Rebel Spirit."
In a sworn affidavit to obtain the arrest warrant, an FBI investigator wrote the envelope contained a powdery white substance with a letter to Trump calling him "The Ugly Tyrant Clown." The letter, intercepted less than two months before the 2020 presidential election, accused Trump of ruining the United States and called on him to "give up" his re-election bid.
Authorities said that when Ferrier was arrested she was in possession of a handgun and several other weapons, nearly 300 rounds of ammunition and a fake Texas driver’s licence.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2023.
James McCarten, The Canadian Press