Federal jury in Utah convicts environmentalist
SALT LAKE CITY — An environmentalist has been convicted of making $1.8 million in false oil and gas drilling bids at a federal auction in a case that became a cause celebre among activists and Hollywood stars.
Authorities say 29-year-old Tim DeChristopher made the bids to run up the price of 13 oil-and-gas leases near Utah’s Arches and Canyonlands national parks but lacked the ability to pay.
A federal jury reached its verdict today, finding DeChristopher guilty of two felony counts of interfering with and making false representations at a government auction.
He could face as many as 10 years in prison and a fine of $750,000.
A University of Utah economics student at the time, he offered to cover the bill with an Internet fundraising campaign, but the government refused to accept any of the money.