U.S. judge orders Canadian woman accused of threatening Trump to remain in custody
Published Monday, September 28, 2020 3:32PM EDT Last Updated Monday, September 28, 2020 5:01PM EDT
A Quebec woman accused of sending a ricin-laced threat to U.S. President Donald Trump was equipped to cause bodily harm when she was arrested, a U.S. judge said Monday as he ordered Pascale Ferrier to remain behind bars.
Ferrier, 53, had at least one semi-automatic handgun and 294 rounds of ammunition with her when she was arrested last weekend while trying to cross the Canada-U. S. border, the court heard.
Timothy Lynch of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Buffalo, N.Y., described Ferrier as being "loaded for bear" when she was stopped Sept. 20 at the Peace Bridge border crossing.
Lynch noted that in the letter, Ferrier allegedly threatened additional violence to the president if the ricin didn't work, either through a different poison or in person with a gun "when I'll be able to come."
That's precisely what she was intent on doing when she showed up at the border, Lynch alleged.
"It appears that defendant was following up on her threat to the president, that she would come into the United States with her gun," he said.
"There's no reason to believe, judge, that if this defendant is released, she won't in some way attempt to cause bodily injury or kill the president or other individuals in the United States."
District Court Judge Kenneth Schroeder Jr. seemed to agree.
The government's evidence and arguments, he said, "clearly establish this defendant's capability to commit or to threaten to commit acts of violence, including bringing about the death or homicide of a third party."
Schroeder Jr. ordered Ferrier, a naturalized Canadian citizen who lives in Montreal, to be transferred to a facility in the Washington area, where a grand jury has already returned an indictment on a charge of threatening the president of the United States.
Lynch did acknowledge that Ferrier identified herself to U.S. border protection officers as the person "wanted by the FBI for the ricin envelope," a detail that didn't escape the notice of her lawyer, Fonda Kubiak.
Surely if Ferrier posed a risk of flight, she wouldn't have presented herself to the authorities in the way she did, Kubiak argued.
"She came to the bridge, and said, 'I understand from news reports that I'm the person you're looking for.' If somebody were going to run or flee, they certainly do not engage in that type of conduct," said Kubiak, who also entered a plea of not guilty on behalf of her client.
"If she was loaded for bear and she had ill will and intentions, she certainly would not have gone to the border to say, 'Here I am."'
Lynch said Ferrier was also in possession of a "spring knife," a stun gun and a baton when she was arrested, and that lab tests in Canada found traces of ricin in a mortar and pestle recovered from her apartment in Montreal.
Kubiak tried to argue that Ferrier could be released into the custody of family members in Canada or in Texas who are willing to help take care of her while she awaited trial.
Schroeder Jr. cited the unrelated case of Meng Wanzhou, the Huawei executive currently in custody in Canada while she awaits extradition to the U.S., as an example of why that wouldn't work.
That case has already taken an inordinate amount of time to be resolved, he said. What's more, it would be impossible for U.S. probation officials to monitor her conduct, and a U.S. waiver of extradition wouldn't necessarily carry any legal weight in a Canadian court.
"There is clear and convincing evidence," he said, "that the defendant does constitute a continuing danger to the president of the United States, as well as ΓÇª anybody else within the confines of the United States."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 28, 2020.