Woman charged with sending ricin to the White House pleads not guilty, will be held without bail

A woman charged with making threats against President Trump by mailing a package containing ricin to the White House was ordered held without bail Monday by a judge in Buffalo who cited “a very strong case” against her based on an indictment in Washington, D.C.

Pascale Ferrier, 53, of a Montreal suburb, was arrested a week ago as she tried to enter the U.S. through a border crossing between Fort Erie, Ontario, and Buffalo. Her lawyer entered a not guilty plea on her behalf Monday.

U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder Jr. cited a long history of assassinations and attempted assassinations of U.S. presidents since the killing of President Abraham Lincoln in finding that Ferrier was an ongoing threat to the president and others.

He also read from a letter that prosecutors allege Ferrier wrote to Trump and included in the ricin-laden container, in which she allegedly threatened to find a more dangerous poison or to use her gun to stop him from his presidential campaign.

“It would appear to me the government has a very strong case, especially assuming the legal validity of the alleged admissions at the time of her arrest,” Schroeder said of the woman, who has French and Canadian citizenship.

He ordered her transfer to Washington to face the one-count indictment.

The envelope containing the toxic substance and the threatening letter was addressed to the White House but was intercepted at a mail sorting facility on September 18. No one was harmed.

Besides the letter’s threats was a command to Trump to “give up and remove our application for this election,” authorities said.

The FBI discovered that six additional similar letters appeared to have been received in Texas a few days earlier, according to a criminal complaint.

Her lawyer, Fonda Dawn Kubiak, argued that she should be granted bail. “As Ms. Ferrier sits here today, she is presumed innocent,” Kubiak said.

She called her client “highly educated” with the equivalent of a master’s degree in engineering in France and who was employed by an aircraft engineering company.

Kubiak said Ferrier could reside with her son in Quebec or possibly with family members in Texas.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Lynch said Ferrier was trying to enter the United States last week when an officer approached and asked if she was OK. “No, I’m wanted by the FBI for the ricin envelope,” he quoted her as responding.

He said authorities handcuffed her and searched her vehicle, in which they found a semiautomatic handgun loaded with seven rounds of ammunition, nearly 300 rounds of other ammunition, pepper spray, a knife and a stun gun.

“She was loaded for bear, Judge,” the prosecutor said.

He said that ricin had been located at her apartment outside Montreal and that she was likely to face additional charges in Washington, Texas and Buffalo.

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Canadian woman suspected of sending White House a ricin package pleads not guilty

A Canadian woman suspected of mailing a package containing ricin to the White House last week appeared in court Tuesday afternoon where she pleaded not guilty.

Pascale Ferrier, of Quebec, was arrested Sunday at the New York-Canada border on a charge of threatening the president. Her court appearance was brief and U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder Jr. entered a not-guilty plea on her behalf.

This photo provided by the Hidalgo County (Texas) Sheriff's Office, showing the booking photo of Pascale Ferrier. 

This photo provided by the Hidalgo County (Texas) Sheriff’s Office, showing the booking photo of Pascale Ferrier. 
(Hidalgo County (Texas) Sheriff’s Office, via AP)

Ferrier, who wore a tan jail jumpsuit, had her hands in cuffs and a chain around her waist. A blue mask covered much of her face as she spoke only briefly to answer the judge’s questions.

Through an interpreter and her attorney, she also asked for an identity hearing — which would compel the government to prove that she is indeed the person for whom the arrest warrant was issued — and a probable cause hearing for the government to prove there is sufficient cause to proceed in the case. The judge ordered her held without bail.

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Her attorney, Fonda Kubiak, said Ferrier was exercising her rights to those hearings, which were scheduled for Monday.

“She has a presumption of innocence and that’ll be pursued further after today,” Kubiak said outside the courthouse.

A Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer walks outside of an apartment complex Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, in St-Hubert, Quebec, during a raid in connection with an envelope containing the poison ricin, which was addressed to the White House. 

A Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer walks outside of an apartment complex Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, in St-Hubert, Quebec, during a raid in connection with an envelope containing the poison ricin, which was addressed to the White House. 
(The Canadian Press via AP)

The package, postmarked from Canada and addressed to the White House, was sent sometime last week and intercepted at a mail sorting facility on Friday. It included a letter that included disparaging remarks about the president, according to an FBI affidavit filed in the case.

During the investigation, the FBI discovered that six additional similar letters appeared to have been received in Texas in September and also had stamps indicating that they’d been mailed from Canada, according to court papers.

Those letters “contained similar language” to the letter that was sent to Trump and were sent to people affiliated with facilities where Ferrier had been jailed in 2019.

Investigators also matched Ferrier’s fingerprints from four of the letters, the complaint said. In Facebook and Twitter posts in September, Ferrier also wrote threatening messages against the president and used similar wording as she did in the letter, according to the document.

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When she was arrested Sunday while trying to enter a border crossing in Buffalo, Ferrier told Customs and Border Patrol agents that she was “wanted by the FBI for the ricin letters,” the complaint said. Officers found a loaded gun in her waistband and said she was also carrying a knife.

Ferrier was booked into the Hidalgo County jail in March of 2019

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