Arizona man named suspect in Vail, Colo., arson
12/17/2005, 12:07 p.m. PT
The Associated Press


EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — An Arizona bookstore owner charged with ecosabotage in Washington helped the Earth Liberation Front plan the 1998 firebombing of a Vail, Colo., ski resort according to information in an affidavit unsealed in federal court here.

In the affadavit FBI agent John Ferreira wrote that the informant said William Rodgers of Prescott, Ariz., attended a meeting in western Colorado where the arson was planned.

Rodgers is in custody charged in the firebombing of a government wildlife lab outside Olympia, Wash. He was among six people arrested this month in connection with ecoterrorist attacks in Oregon and Washington in recent years.

The FBI had earlier named Rodgers as a suspect in the Vail fire, which caused $12 million in damage. The radical Earth Liberation Front claimed responsibility, saying it burned the resort's buildings and ski lifts because they were an obstacle to the development of wild lynx.

Nobody has been charged in the Vail arson but Rodgers and Chelsea Gerlach, 28, of Portland, have been named as suspects.

The affidavit implicating Rodgers did not say why the informant came forward but said he took part in the Olympia firebombing, a fire at a lumber mill in Glendale, Ore., and took part in a "dry run" of an arson attack in 2001 on the Poplar Tree Farm near Clatskanaie.

The affidavit said information from the informant on the type of incendiaries used and where they were placed match conclusions of investigators from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

It said the government gave the informant a body wire and sent him into conversations with some of the six arrested last week.

The affidavit describes a string of bumbling errors leading up to the June, 1998 firebombing of two USDA buildings in Olympia.

It said the informant and Kevin Tubbs of Springfield drove up from Eugene in a van with Josephine Sunshine Overaker, who remains at large.

It said that in Tacoma, Wash., Overaker was arrested for shoplifting and that Tubbs and the informant missed a connection with someone who was supposed to supply timers.

Van trouble sidelined Tubbs, the affidavit says, so the informant and Rodgers torched the buildings themselves.

The informant and Overaker wound up hitchhiking back to Eugene.

Tubbs also is charged with arson in the burning of 35 SUVs at a Eugene auto dealership in March of 2001.