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Woman pleads guilty to mailing ricin to President Trump in 2020

French Canadian woman also mailed threatening letters with homemade toxin to eight Texas law enforcement officials

The E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Court House in Washington, D.C. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
3 min

A French Canadian woman pleaded guilty Wednesday to sending ricin-laced letters with threats to President Donald Trump at the White House and eight Texas law enforcement officials in September 2020, the Justice Department announced.

Pascale Cecile Veronique Ferrier, 55, admitted making the ricin at her home in Quebec and mailing the potentially deadly poison from Canada to the recipients, before driving to the Peace Bridge Border Crossing into the United States in Buffalo, where she was arrested on weapons charges on Sept. 20, 2020.

“I found a new name for you: ‘The Ugly Tyrant Clown’,” Ferrier wrote in her letter to Trump. The letter was received at an off-site facility near Washington where mail addressed to the White House is prescreened and tested for dangerous substances, according to the FBI.

Ferrier, a computer programmer, admitted in plea papers that she instructed Trump to “[g]ive up and remove [his] application for this election,” after writing on Twitter earlier that month “#killTrump” and proposing that someone should “please shoot [T]rump in the face.”

“I made a Special Gift for you to make a decision,” her letter stated, according to the FBI. “If it doesn’t work, I’ll find better recipe for another poison, or I might use my gun when I’ll be able to come. Enjoy! FREE REBEL SPIRIT.”

Envelope addressed to Trump tested positive for ricin, officials say

Ferrier believed her Texas targets were connected to her detention for about 10 weeks in spring 2019 after she was arrested by police in Mission, Tex., on a weapons possession charge, and then transferred to U.S. immigration authorities, prosecutors said.

The FBI said it matched Ferrier’s fingerprints to those found on several of the letters, and said they were addressed to individuals working at penitentiaries and detention facilities where she had been held. The letters contained similar references to a “special gift for you” and included “FREE REBEL SPIRIT” in the signature block, the FBI said.

Ferrier has been held pending trial since her arrest in Buffalo, where Border Patrol officials found her carrying a loaded firearm in her waistband, hundreds of rounds of ammunition and other weapons.

Ferrier pleaded guilty to two counts of violating federal prohibitions with respect to biological weapons punishable by up to life in prison. In a plea deal, Ferrier agreed to a prison term of 262 months at sentencing, which is set for April 26 before U.S. District Judge Dabney L. Friedrich in Washington.

“There is no place for political violence in our country, and no excuse for threatening public officials or endangering our public servants,” U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves of Washington said, announcing the arrest with his Houston counterpart, U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani and Justice Department and FBI officials.

Ricin can be made from castor beans, but its effectiveness as a poison depends on how carefully it is processed, with low-concentration batches posing no harm.

In 2013, a man in Mississippi sent a letter with ricin to President Barack Obama in a bizarre plot to frame an Elvis impersonator with whom he was feuding. That year, a Texas actress sent ricin-laced letters to officials including Obama and then-New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg and tried to blame her husband.