French-Canadian pleads guilty in US to ricin threat against Trump

A French-Canadian woman pleaded guilty Wednesday to sending letters containing deadly ricin to former president Donald Trump and to eight Texas law enforcement officials, the US Justice Department said.

As a result of a plea deal, Pascale Ferrier, 55, will spend nearly 22 years in prison for violating laws on possession of biological weapons.

In September 2020 Ferrier sent an envelope from Canada to the White House addressed to then-president Trump containing ricin, an extremely toxic plant protein derived from castor bean plant seeds.

Her letter contained "threatening language" and called on Trump to withdraw from the looming election, according to the Justice Department.

"I found a new name for you: 'The Ugly Tyrant Clown' I hope you like it," the letter said.

"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!" she wrote.

Around the time of sending the letter, Ferrier had also posted on Twitter that someone should "shoot Trump in the face."

Threatening the US president is a specific crime that brings up to five years in prison.

She sent similar letters with ricin and threatening language to the Texas officials.

The Justice Department said that in 2019 Ferrier had been detained in Texas for around 10 weeks for weapons possession, and she blamed the officials she eventually sent letters to.

No one was hurt by the poisonous contents of the letters. All White House mail goes through a suburban Washington processing facility, in part to screen for threats.

Ferrier mailed all the letters from Canada, and afterwards attempted to enter the United States at an official crossing in Buffalo, New York.

She was arrested there. Officials found a gun and hundreds of rounds of ammunition in her car, the department said.

In a deal with prosecutors, Ferrier pleaded guilty to violating prohibitions on possession or use of banned biological weapons.

Her sentence, if the plea deal is confirmed by a judge, will be 262 months in prison.

pmh/caw