Arson case made against four forest activists

Associated Press/November 7, 2002

Portland -- Four forest activists charged with setting logging trucks on fire during last year's protests of the Eagle Creek timber sale were captured after one of them told a girlfriend about the act, according to arrest papers. The girlfriend's father is a deputy state fire marshal.

Jacob D.B. Sherman, 20, and three other activists are accused in the arson, which caused $50,000 damage to three trucks belonging to Ray A. Schoppert Logging of Estacada.

The government also has charged Sherman with the Easter 2001 firebombing of three cement trucks belonging to Portland's Ross Island Sand & Gravel. The Earth Liberation Front , a well-known eco-terrorist group, later claimed responsibility for the crime.

Tre Arrow, a former congressional candidate, is accused of taking part in both arsons. He remained a fugitive on Wednesday, according to the FBI.

An FBI search-warrant affidavit filed in U.S. District Court lays out, for the first time publicly, the government's case against Sherman, Arrow and two alleged accomplices.

On June 1, 2001, eight homemade incendiaries made of gallon milk jugs were placed beneath six log trucks and a front-end loader at Schoppert Logging near Estacada. Four of the firebombs ignited.

Later that day, the government got a tip that led them to Sherman and his fellow activists, according to a search-warrant affidavit written by FBI Special Agent Diana M. Kimes. Sherman's father, Tim Sherman, phoned the FBI to report his son's possible involvement, Kimes wrote.

Jacob Sherman of Portland had borrowed his mother's Toyota on March 31, 2001, the night before the firebombing. The following morning, he returned the car, which reeked of gasoline fumes, the affidavit states.

In the months after the Estacada arson, the document shows, Sherman confided to girlfriend Jacquelyn Caul that he had helped set fire to some logging trucks and that the FBI was tailing him.

"Jacob told Jacquelyn there were about five trucks at the target location and each person was responsible for placing a device under each of the trucks," Kimes wrote.

One day, Caul mentioned to Sherman that her father happened to be a deputy state fire marshal. According to the court document, Sherman told Caul: "You better not tell him."

But she did.

The Oregonian reported Wednesday that the FBI and a federal prosecutor assigned to the case declined to elaborate on the affidavit.

The FBI refers to the Earth Liberation Front as one of the nation's most prolific domestic terrorist organizations. The ELF is thought to be responsible for the 1998 torching of a ski resort in Vail, Colo., an arson that caused $12 million and stands as the most destructive act of eco-terrorism in U.S. history.

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