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Judge Gives Another Break To Man Tied To MSU Arson

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DETROIT (AP) - A judge has cut more than three years off the prison sentence of a former radical environmentalist who set a major fire at Michigan State University and burned down new homes before becoming a government informant.

Frank Ambrose was rewarded again for his substantial assistance to the government, which means he’s apparently still helping authorities while in prison. U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney didn’t elaborate Monday after cutting his sentence from nine years to just under six years.

The prosecutor and Ambrose’s attorney have made five sealed filings in the case since January. The Associated Press recently asked the Kalamazoo-based judge to make the documents public, but he declined.

“The interests of confidentiality outweigh the interests of this stuff being public,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Hagen Frank said Wednesday, declining further comment.

Ambrose has been in federal prison since 2008. A message seeking comment from his attorney, Sol Wisenberg, was not immediately returned.

Ambrose, 37, was a radical environmentalist who identified himself with the Earth Liberation Front, known as ELF. On New Year’s Eve 1999, he and wife Marie Mason set a fire at Michigan State University’s Agriculture Hall to protest plant research, causing $1 million in damage. He also spiked trees in Indiana and burned homes under construction in Michigan.

But the FBI didn’t catch him until 2007 when agents got an extraordinary break: A man foraging for wood in a Detroit-area trash bin found Ambrose’s writings, a gas mask, an M-80 explosive and other possessions.

Ambrose subsequently became an informant, cooperation that helped when he was first sentenced in 2008. The prosecutor at the time called his assistance “nothing short of remarkable.” Ambrose had turned on his wife and secretly recorded conversations at gatherings of radical environmental groups.

In 2009, Mason was sentenced to nearly 22 years in prison.

© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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