Two Arrested for Connection to Attempted Train Derailment

August 27, 2010 Updated Aug 27, 2010 at 6:48 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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Two Arrested for Connection to Attempted Train Derailment

August 27, 2010 Updated Aug 27, 2010 at 6:48 PM EDT

CATTARAUGUS COUNTY (WKBW) Officials are calling the July 5th attempted train derailment a crime of terrorism and attempted murder. Now, two people have been arrested for interfering with a federal investigation, lying to federal agents, and attempting to intimidate a witness who was cooperating with the investigation.

The original crime happened last July, when an Amtrak train carrying 354 people was nearly derailed by railroad ties placed on the tracks. This happened on the Seneca Indian Territory in Cattaraugus County. James Phillips and Christine Seneca have been arrested for allegedly attempting to intimidate and interfere with a witness who was cooperating with the federal investigation into the attempted derailment.

U.S. Attorney William Hochul said that it is still unclear whether the attempted derailment had anything to do with a nearby sign saying "NO MAIL NO RAIL" referring to a federal law that bans the shipment of cigarettes through the mail.

"We're not going to rest until we find who attempted to kill all those people on the Amtrak train," Hochul said Friday, "if along the way of our investigation we find that there are witnesses who have withheld information or lied about what they saw or know, our office stands ready to use all the tools that Congress have given to us."

The two individuals arrested could face charges of obstruction of justice and lying to federal agents, carrying a possible penalty of eight to twenty years in jail.

Officials are calling for help from the public, and asking anyone with information to confidentially call the FBI. There is also a reward of $20,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or people who tried to derail the train.