Monday, March 20, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

ELF Member Admits Arson Conspiracy

LOS ANGELES (CN) - A member of the Earth Liberation Front pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to commit arson for the 2006 attempted burning of a multimillion-dollar condominium project in Pasadena.

Steven James Murphy admitted placing a half-gallon plastic juice bottle filled with gasoline and attached to a delayed ignition timer made of cigarettes and matches at the Vista Del Arroyo Bungalows, which was under construction beneath the Colorado bridge in Pasadena.

While the ignition failed and the bomb caused no damage, investigators from the Pasadena Fire Department and San Gabriel Valley Arson Task Force said there was enough gasoline in the device to destroy the entire development and possibly surrounding structures.

Murphy, 44, hatched the arson plot with an unindicted co-conspirator in an effort to "inflict economic harm on individuals and entities that they believed to be causing harm to the environment," according to the plea agreement.

Murphy also admitted he disabled the ignition of a tractor on the job site and credited the E.L.F. by writing "Another Tractor Decommissioned by the E.L.F."

The crime went unsolved until late last year, when investigators matched Murphy's DNA with that found on the device. He was arrested in Texas and is in jail in San Bernardino. He faces up to 5 years in prison at his April 5 sentencing.

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.