Associated Press, Mar. 14, 2003
By Denise Lavoie, ASSOCIATED PRESS
BOSTON – A woman convicted of plotting with her boyfriend to blow up Jewish and black landmarks told a judge at her sentencing hearing she was embarrassed by what she had done.
“I didn’t see how ugly and disturbing my life was when I was living in the middle of it. I had to be ripped out of it,” Erica Chase said.
“I have a lot of shame for everything,” she said.
Chase was sentenced to four years and nine months in prison Thursday. U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner told her: “I hope you do something with the rest of your life to make up for what you came close to doing.”
In July, a federal jury convicted Chase and her former boyfriend, Leo Felton, 32, of several charges, including conspiring to make a bomb in what prosecutors described as a scheme to foment “racial holy war.”
Prosecutors told the jury they found newspaper clippings and photographs of two Boston landmarks – the New England Holocaust Memorial and the Leonard P. Zakim Bridge – in the couple’s apartment.
Investigators uncovered the plot in April 2001 after Chase tried to pass a counterfeit $20 bill at a doughnut shop. Felton was making the phony money to help finance the plan and had already gathered most of the ingredients to make a bomb, including a 50-pound bag of the same type of fertilizer used in the Oklahoma City bombing.
Chase’s lawyer, Timothy Watkins, asked the judge for leniency and portrayed Chase as a young woman caught up in a romance with an older man.
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Emily Schulman said Chase moved from Indiana to Massachusetts to help Felton with his plot. Both Felton, the mixed-race son of civil rights activists, and Chase belonged to groups that advocate white supremacy.
During the trial, the defense maintained the couple was being prosecuted for their beliefs and never planned to carry out violent acts.
The judge said she believes Chase was an enthusiastic believer in the white supremacist movement.
“In a sense, you fell in love with Leo Felton precisely because of his ideas – and those ideas are hateful and they are horrible,” Gertner said.