Texas man sentenced to prison for ELF-related plot to burn Pasadena development

A Texas man who planted a gasoline bomb at a condominium development under construction in Pasadena was sentenced today to five years in federal prison.

Stephen James Murphy, 44, pleaded guilty in January to conspiring with another person involved in the underground extremist movement ELF to maliciously damage or destroy property.

"I apologize to the court and my fiance,'' Murphy told U.S. District Judge Manuel L. Real during the sentencing hearing. "I look forward to going home when this is over and leading a good, quiet life from there.''

According to prosecutors, Murphy learned from an unindicted co-conspirator how to construct an incendiary device using a 64-ounce plastic juice bottle, gasoline and a delayed ignition timer.

The two planned on committing arson on behalf of ELF by using the device to burn down the under-construction condo building in hopes of intimidating and inflicting economic harm on individuals and companies they believed were causing harm to the environment, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

On Sept. 19, 2006, Murphy placed the device in a partially constructed unit in the condominium project known as Vista Del Arroyo Bungalows, which was being built directly beneath the Colorado Street Bridge in Pasadena, prosecutors said.

Before leaving the scene, Murphy lit the device with the intent to burn down the entire development under construction, according to the government.

However, the delayed-ignition timer failed before it could ignite the gasoline, prosecutors said.

Arson investigators determined that if the device had functioned the way it was designed, there would have been enough gas to destroy the entire Bungalows development, as well as other nearby structures, prosecutors said.

Murphy also admitted disabling the ignition of a tractor used on the job site and crediting ELF by scrawling "Another Tractor Decommissioned by the E.L.F.'' on the vehicle, prosecutors said.

Murphy was arrested in October at his home in Arlington, Texas, after being named in a criminal complaint.

According to the complaint, the Pasadena Fire Department was dispatched to the construction site and found what was described as a "crude incendiary device'' partially made from cigarettes.

Authorities said DNA found on the cigarettes matched Murphy's DNA, which was in a state Department of Justice database stemming from a previous arrest in California.

FBI officials said ELF-related attacks have led to millions of dollars in property damage nationwide.

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