PORTLAND, Ore. — A federal judge imprisoned the last eco-terrorist in custody for the 1998 arson that leveled Vail’s Two Elk Lodge.
Rebecca Rubin will spend five years in prison for her part in one of the most expensive acts of eco-terrorism in history. Chief U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken gave Rubin less than the seven and a half years prosecutors had requested.
Aiken has been sentencing those arrested in connection with the Vail arson since 2007. Rubin’s prison term is the lowest she could have received under the federal sentencing guidelines.
In last week’s sentencing hearing Rubin apologized to her family, the court, firefighters and targets of the Animal Liberation Front and Earth Liberation Front.
“I was so convinced at the righteousness of my beliefs, that I chose to ignore my own wrongdoing,” Rubin said.
Vail Resorts says it’s glad it’s finally over.
“We are thankful that the various law enforcement agencies have brought closure to this case and that all of the individuals responsible for this act have been brought to justice,” said Kelly Ladyga, Vail Resorts’ director of corporate communications.
Rubin, 40, was a fugitive for seven years, December 2005 to November 2012. She fled to Canada after she learned she had been charged for her part in a multi-state firebombing spree with the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front.
In November 2012, Rubin turned herself in to the FBI at the Peace Arch border crossing in Blaine, Washington, between Canada and Washington. Her mother drove her to the meeting from Vancouver, where Rubin had been hiding while working as a veterinarian’s assistant.
Last October, Rubin pleaded guilty to conspiracy and arson for her part in 20 firebombings and vandalism in Oregon, Colorado, Wyoming and California that investigators say caused $40 million in damage. Among them was the $12 million Two Elk fire that leveled a restaurant at the top of Vail Mountain.
On Oct. 19, 1998, Rubin carried fuel onto Vail Mountain to ignite firebombs made from diesel and five-gallon plastic buckets. Vail Resorts Inc. quickly replaced it with a larger Two Elk Lodge.
The Earth Liberation Front told the media that the Two Elk fire was intended to deter development in Blue Sky Basin, which they said was habitat for the Canada lynx.
Rubin has refused to turn over the names of any of her co-conspirators, prosecutors said.
ELF committed the most destructive act of eco-terrorism in August 2003 when they burned down a condo complex under construction in San Diego. The arsonists left a sheet on the ground near that crime scene that said, “If you build it, we will burn it. The E.L.F.s are mad.”
“Although at the time I believed my only motivation was my deep love for the earth, I now understand that impatience, anger, egotism and self-righteousness were also involved,” Rubin wrote in a letter she read during her sentencing. “In retrospect, I recognize how immature my actions were. I am now 40 years old and have had much time to reflect on and consider the consequences of my choices, and my thinking has become much more coherent. I know now that my actions were not merely destructive of inanimate objects but were also harmful to other, feeling human beings.”
During the sentencing, prosecutors told Aiken that while they appreciate the sentiment, it doesn’t make up for a four-year crime spree, followed by several years of running and protecting fugitives still at large.
Rubin’s lawyer, Richard J. Troberman, said in a memo to Aiken that Rubin was “less culpable than the average participant in each of these offenses.”
Troberman said she fled because she was compared to Osama bin Laden in news accounts, and because she could be facing up to life in prison.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.