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Plea Deal in Border Arrest

February 15, 2000

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) _ A Montreal woman linked to a group of Algerians thought to be plotting a bombing in the United States was freed Tuesday after prosecutors said she had cooperated with investigators and had no knowledge of any terrorist activities.

Lucia Garofalo, 35, agreed to plead guilty to two immigration charges _ transporting an alien into the United States and conspiring to transport aliens. She could face as many as 10 years in jail, but prosecutors said they would recommend leniency.

Garofalo had been held since Dec. 19, when she tried to enter Vermont from Canada with an Algerian man, Bouabide Chamchi, 20. They were charged with relatively minor immigration infractions, including trying to enter the United States illegally and using a stolen French passport.

Charges still are pending against Chamchi.

Prosecutors had used telephone records to indirectly link Garofalo with Ahmed Ressam, an Algerian man arrested Dec. 14 for allegedly crossing from Canada to Washington state with bomb-making parts in the trunk of his rental car. Ressam has pleaded innocent to charges that he conspired to blow up targets in the United States.

Prosecutors had said a call from Garofalo’s cell phone was linked to Abdel Ghani Meskini, 31, who has pleaded innocent in New York to charges of providing and concealing support for Ressam. Prosecutors now say the call from Garofalo’s phone was made by another person, although she may have been present.

In a new development in Ressam’s case, documents filed in federal court in Seattle said he had scars on his right leg and may have burned himself while handling explosives at his apartment in Montreal.

According to the documents cited by The Seattle Times on Tuesday, holes and burn marks in tennis shoes and pants seized from the apartment were made by substances used in making an explosive called EGDN, which prosecutors have identified as a nitroglycerine equivalent.

The new information appears in a motion seeking blood and saliva from Ressam for DNA tests.

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