Federal Judge Rejects Reduced Sentence For Anti-Abortion Extremists

A federal judge in Buffalo rejected a plea bargain yesterday for two anti-abortion extremists accused of helping fugitive James Kopp while he was on the run from charges for the murder of a Buffalo obstetrician/gynecologist and abortion provider. US District Court Judge Richard Arcara called the deal too lenient for Dennis Malvasi and Loretta Marra, a Brooklyn couple who are said to have helped Kopp with money, shelter, and support while he eluded law enforcement for over two years. The two were arrested in New York shortly after Kopp was detained in Dinan, France in March 2001 and charged with four felony counts each that carried a maximum sentence of 10 years. After rejecting the deal that would have given the couple a sentence of 27 to 33 months and exemption from testifying against Kopp in exchange for a guilty plea on a single count of harboring a fugitive, Arcara asked why the couple should not be considered accessories after the fact in Dr. Bernard Slepian’s 1998 sniper-style killing. He referred to e-mails from Kopp to Marra and Malvasi that said he was tired of “living in limbo” and wondering whether he should return “to the field,” the Buffalo News reported. These statements were “conversations about returning to the field of shooting abortion providers,” Arcara said, as reported by the Buffalo News. Malvasi, who has been convicted in the bombings of three reproductive health clinics as well as the attempted bombing of a fourth clinic, has already served five years in prison. Marra, was twice arrested with Kopp during anti-abortion protests in Vermont and New York in the early 1990s. Kopp, who was at one time on the FBI’s Most Wanted List, is not only facing charges in the murder of Dr. Slepian, but also has been indicted for the 1995 shooting of Ontario abortion provider Dr. Hugh Short and is the primary suspect in three separate shootings of abortion providers in Canada and New York.


Associated Press 8/21/02; Buffalo News 8/22/02; CNN.com 8/22/02

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