Canadian charged in ricin threat being transferred to D.C. for prosecution

Sep 29, 2020

A Montreal-area woman accused of mailing a letter to President Trump containing lethal ricin will be held in custody until trial.

Federal Magistrate Judge Kenneth Schroeder ruled Monday there was too much evidence that the French-born and Canadian citizen engineer could hop the border and be nearly impossible to get back if released. Federal prosecutors say Pascale Ferrier, 53, has access to multiple passports and forged personal ID, like Texas driver's licenses.

Federal Public Defender Fonda Kubiak at the courthouse Monday.
Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

Federal Public Defender Fonda Kubiak said there was no identification hearing.

"After reviewing the evidence that the government had, we waived that hearing," Kubiak said. "The preliminary hearing was no longer necessary because there had been an indictment returned out of the grand jury in the District of Columbia, and then we went forward with the detention hearing and the court found that the government had established the basis for detention, and she'll be transferred to the District of Columbia."

Kubiak said the D.C. federal Public Defender's Office will handle and undertake Ferrier's defense and "move forward with any of the substantive parts of the case."

Schroeder said evidence submitted to him from Canada says Canadian investigators searching Ferrier's apartment in Laval, Quebec found ricin and the materials needed to make the material. Prosecutors say the ricin and threats to the president were detected at a Washington-area facility that checks mail to the White House and other federal buildings.

Ferrier tried to cross the Peace Bridge on Sept. 20, when prosecutors say she identified herself as the person being sought by the FBI for the ricin letter. Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Lynch said a search of her car found a loaded weapon, 294 rounds of ammunition, a knife, a stun gun, pepper spray and a bulletproof vest "loaded for bear."

There was a lot of testimony during the hearing about Ferrier's propensity for guns, both during an arrest last year in Texas and her arrest at the Peace Bridge. So far, there are no criminal charges on the weapons.