Coded, self-destructing e-mails possibly used
EUGENE, Ore. – A federal prosecutor described tactics used by suspects in Oregon ecoterror cases to keep their meetings secret as he argued that a woman accused of serving as the lookout for the firebombing of a southern Oregon lumber mill office should be denied bail.Suzanne Savoie, 29, of Applegate, who has been working as a caregiver at an Ashland group home for the developmentally disabled, faces 10 to 45 years in prison if convicted of arson and conspiracy charges in the 2001 firebombing of offices at Superior Lumber Co., now known as Swanson Group, in Glendale.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kirk Engdall told the court Tuesday that at least four co-conspirators have told investigators about Savoie’s activities, including attendance at meetings of secretive cells where everyone reported how they traveled to the meeting, what steps they took to avoid being followed and what cover story they would tell friends and family to account for their time.Each of the cell members had a code book and encryption software to convert letters to numbers in e-mail messages concerning their plans, Engdall said. Using the code book as a key, the software decoded their messages and programmed them to self-destruct after seven days.Wearing jail clothes and shackles, Savoie sat silently as her defense lawyer, John Kolego of Eugene, urged a magistrate to consider allowing her to remain free pending trial. Kolego noted Savoie made no attempt to flee even though investigators told her weeks before her arrest that she was a suspect.
Kolego added that Savoie could post $50,000 in equity she holds in property to secure her release.Engdall countered that informants have told investigators that in 2001 Savoie also had participated in spiking a timber sale, girdling trees at Oregon State University and rehearsing another arson.Noting that the trial could be a year away, U.S. Magistrate Tom Coffin said he would not rule on bail until Thursday, when he had considered terms that might allow Savoie to leave jail.