Convicted Leader Of Bundy-Inspired ATV Protest Ride Says He Made A Mistake

FILE - In this April 22, 2015, file photo, San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman leaves the federal courthouse in Salt Lake City. The state of Utah has asked the attorney general's office to investigate whether fed... FILE - In this April 22, 2015, file photo, San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman leaves the federal courthouse in Salt Lake City. The state of Utah has asked the attorney general's office to investigate whether federal officials had the right to close a remote trail that was the site of an ATV protest ride last year. Republican Representative Mike Noel of Kanab says he has documents proving the road should not have been off-limits and that they will lead to exoneration of Lyman, who was convicted in federal court for his role in the protest. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File) MORE LESS
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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A southern Utah county commissioner convicted of federal misdemeanors for organizing an ATV protest ride through a closed canyon made a mistake and wouldn’t do it again, his lawyers said in new court documents.

Attorneys for San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman are asking a judge to sentence him to probation and community service rather than prison time at a sentencing hearing set for Dec. 18.

“Mr. Lyman recognizes that he should have exercised greater restraint and patience with the BLM, rather than engaging in a protest. He has already been severely penalized for his actions – far beyond what he ever imagined,” lawyer Jeffrey Man wrote in court documents filed Monday.

Prosecutors, though, want Lyman to serve up to a year behind bars. They argue he used his office to encourage people to break the law in the ride designed to protest what organizers called federal overreach in the closure of the canyon.

“Instead of choosing any one or more of these numerous legally-permissible mechanisms to express their disagreement with federal decisions, Defendants chose crime,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jared Bennett said in court documents.

Prosecutors also say he should be fined along with the $96,000 in restitution he’s already been ordered to pay along with blogger Monte Wells for damage to the canyon, which contains archaeological sites up to 2,000 years old.

Defense attorneys counter that Lyman’s political office had nothing to do with the ride, and they said he kept his ATV on a portion of the canyon where it wouldn’t do any damage.

A jury found Lyman and Wells guilty of misdemeanor illegal use of ATVs and conspiracy in May. The panel acquitted two other men charged with participating in the ride that brought about 50 ATV riders to protest the closure of Recapture Canyon in southeastern Utah to motorized vehicles in what was a largely peaceful event.

Federal officials closed the canyon to motorized vehicles in 2007 to protect the ancient dwellings, artifacts and burials, but it has long been a source of tension in the area among people who say that it was improper and unnecessary.

The ride came shortly after Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy had a standoff with the Bureau of Land Management over similar issues and illustrated the simmering tension between the federal government and some residents in the West over land use.

Several Utah officials have supported Lyman’s stance. State lawmakers publicly threw down wads of cash to help pay for his legal defense. The Utah Association of Counties named him county commissioner of the year, saying Lyman is committed to standing for something his colleagues believe in. Lyman returned the honor.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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  1. So, the Taliban destroys 2,000 year old Buddhist artifacts and they’re extremists, while Lyman and Wells go after 2,000 year old Indian artifacts and archaeology and what, they’re patriots? WTF?

    I love how these bastards try and come across as fighting against the federal government, when all they’re really trying to do is get a free handout. At least welfare recipients have the need of poverty. What’s Lyman’s issue, GTA5 not get released on time to keep him from getting bored?

  2. He should have worn a rubber.

  3. Avatar for vonq vonq says:

    Yeah, a year sounds good.

  4. More importantly I think judges should forbid monetary gains from future ventures based on the commission of crimes by these crackpots. This guy might have little prospect of a book deal, a movie, speaking tours, television appearance fees, etc. But many of his ilk are convicted felons and serve jail time. They then parlay their crimes into lucrative Right Wing business enterprises. That is a business model I’d like stopped, more so than hoping they sit in a minimum security country club for 12 months.

  5. I normally don’t support prison for property crimes but I’ll make an exception in this case. What an execrable human being. He’s not a kid making a mistake. Throw his ass in jail and ruin his future chances for employment.

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