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Woman pleads guilty to sending ricin in 2020 letter to Donald Trump

Pascale Ferrier (Hidalgo County (Texas) Sheriff’s Office, via AP)
Pascale Ferrier (Hidalgo County (Texas) Sheriff’s Office, via AP)

A Canadian woman has pleaded guilty to sending a threatening letter containing the poison ricin to then-US president Donald Trump at the White House.

The letter from Pascale Ferrier directing Mr Trump to “give up and remove your application for this election” was intercepted at a mail sorting facility in September 2020, before it could reach the White House.

The 55-year-old Quebec woman also pleaded guilty to sending similar threatening letters to Texas law enforcement officials.

She is expected to be sentenced to 262 months in prison, just short of 22 years, under the terms of a plea deal with prosecutors.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump (Lynne Sladky/AP)

A sentencing hearing is set for April.

“There is no place for political violence in our country, and no excuse for threatening public officials or endangering our public servants,” the US attorney in Washington, Matthew Graves, said in a statement.

Prosecutors said Ferrier made the ricin, a potentially deadly poison derived from processing castor beans, then mailed it to Mr Trump with a letter that referred to him as “The Ugly Tyrant Clown” and read in part: “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.”

She was arrested trying to enter a border crossing in Buffalo, New York, carrying a gun, a knife and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, authorities said.

The investigation also turned up eight letters to Texas officials affiliated with facilities where Ferrier had been jailed in 2019.

The notes created “fear and stress”, even though they did not succeed in poisoning their targets, said Alamdar Hamdani, the US attorney for the southern district of Texas.

Ferrier pleaded guilty to violating biological weapons prohibitions in two separate criminal cases filed in Washington and Texas.

She immigrated to Canada from France and is a dual citizen of the two countries.