Fairbanks Man Indicted for Making False Statements in Connection with February 1978 Bombing of Trans Alaska Pipeline
ANCHORAGE—U.S. Attorney Karen L. Loeffler announced today that a Fairbanks man has been indicted by a federal grand jury for three counts of making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in connection with a recent renewed investigation of a bombing attack on the Trans Alaska Pipeline, which took place in mid-February 1978. The indictment alleges that Phillip Martin Olson, age 61, of Fairbanks, made admissions to the FBI last fall and earlier this year concerning his own involvement in the 1978 pipeline attack but falsely implicated another individual in carrying out the bombing with him.
On February 15, 1978, a pilot flying over the pipeline north of Fairbanks, Alaska, spotted what appeared to be a large plume of crude oil jetting from the pipeline at approximately mile 454.5. An investigation established that an explosive device had been placed on the pipeline and successfully detonated, resulting in a large breach. Approximately 12,000 to 14,000 barrels of crude oil was ejected from the pipeline and onto the surrounding terrain before the spill was stopped. After an investigation by the state and federal law enforcement agencies, no one was charged with carrying out the 1978 bombing attack.
The indictment alleges that more than 35 years later—in November 2013—the Federal Bureau of Investigation was notified that Olson had been making recent statements admitting that he had carried out the 1978 pipeline bombing. A renewed joint investigation by the FBI and the Alaska State Troopers commenced, which included multiple interviews of Olson and others. The indictment alleges that when interviewed on three occasions, Olson admitted that he had carried out the 1978 attack but falsely implicated another individual in carrying out the bombing with him.
Olson was arrested in Fairbanks by the FBI and the Alaska State Troopers this morning and was arraigned at 3:00 p.m. this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Scott A. Oravec. Olson was ordered temporarily detained pending a detention hearing to be held before Judge Oravec next week.
Assistant United States Attorney Joseph Bottini, who presented the case to the grand jury, indicated that the law provides for a sentence of up to five years, as well as a fine of $250,000 and up to five years of supervised release following service of a prison sentence for each count. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Alaska State Troopers conducted the investigation leading to the indictment in this case. Alyeska Pipeline Services Company provided significant cooperation to the investigating agencies.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.