Patricia Swinton

Antiestablishment Bomber Patricia Swinton is Acquitted

U.S. v. Swinton, 400 F. Supp. 805 (S.D.N.Y. 1975)

From July 27 to November 12, 1969, eight New York buildings were bombed. Hours after the last bombing, an FBI informant arrested Sam Melville, along with suspected accomplices Jane Alpert and David Hughey III. A fourth member of their group, Patricia Swinton, was unaccounted for.

Sam Melville pleaded guilty to conspiracy. As the group’s leader, he received a 13-year term out of a maximum 25. Jane Alpert and David Hughey III were sentenced to 27 months and two years, respectively, after pleading guilty to the same charge. In 1971, Melville helped to organize the Attica Prison riot and was shot to death when state police retook the facility.

The FBI captured Patricia Swinton on March 12, 1975—five years after she went into hiding—on a commune in Vermont. She was using the name “Shoshona.” “[O]ne of the ways the Government is willing to use its power [is] to get political dissenters,” she said after her acquittal that September. Neither Alpert nor Hughey would agree to testify against Swinton, which left the prosecution with a weak case.  Swinton was acquitted after a five-day trial.


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