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United States v. Jacobs

United States District Court, D. Wyoming

July 22, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
COMFREY B. JACOBS, Defendant.

ORDER ON MOTION TO CORRECT SENTENCE

MARK L. CARMAN, Magistrate Judge.

This matter having come before this Court upon the Defendant's Rule 35 Motion to Correct Sentence and the Court having considered the briefing of the parties and the court record hereby finds and orders as follows:

FACTS

On March 3, 2014 the defendant, Comfrey Jacobs, was charged with three misdemeanor offenses; interference with agency function (36 CFR 2.32(a)(1), disorderly conduct (36 CFR 2.34(a)(4)) and entering a closed area (36 CFR 1.5(f)). On June 20, 2014 the Defendant appeared in this Court with his attorney, Summer Nelson, and entered a guilty plea pursuant to a negotiated plea agreement with the U.S. Attorneys. The agreement provided that the Defendant would enter a guilty plea to the interference with agency function charge in exchange for a dismissal of the two remaining violations. The Defendant and the government jointly recommended a sentence of seven (7) days in jail with no fine and a payment of $355.00 in restitution to the National Park Service. In addition, they recommended one year of unsupervised probation including a ban from entry into Yellowstone National Park during the term of probation.

Following the entry of the guilty plea to the interference charge, the Court dismissed the two remaining charges and directed the parties to address the matter of sentencing. During the hearing the government advised the Court that it had learned of a fund which had been collected on-line to benefit the Defendant and which the government characterized as a "legal defense fund" which had raised at least $4, 990.[1] The Court was further informed that Ms. Nelson was providing her legal services on a pro bono basis.[2] In her argument, Ms. Nelson suggested the Court consider a payment of "a fine from that legal defense fund and/or have a fine converted to community service".[3] The government suggested that a portion of the fund be used as a community service payment to the Yellowstone Park Foundation, Wildlife Protection Fund. The role and purpose of the Yellowstone Park Foundation ("YPF") and its Wildlife Protection Fund is known to the Court and was more fully described in the government's Reply to Rule 35 Motion to Correct Sentence as follows:

The [Yellowstone Park Foundation] is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization. In 1996, a group of citizens, working with the National Park Service, established YPF with the mission to protect, preserve, and enhance Yellowstone National Park. Today, YPF has successfully funded more than 200 Yellowstone National Park projects. The YPF has the explicit goal of funding wildlife protection projects, initiatives, and enforcement activities designed for the benefit and preservation of wildlife resources in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho. Furthermore, the YPF identifies, investigates, and halts the unlawful take (sic) of wildlife, traffic of wildlife and sale of such resources in that region. Specifically, the YPF spearheads the Wildlife Health Project, which in groundbreaking research identified the brucellosis bacteria in bison, developing overall health for the wild bison and the Managing Bison Project to protect migratory bison. (Citations omitted)

The Defendant asserted that it was not his intent to individually profit and he informed the Court that it was his desire to "give that back to nonprofits and other community organizations that are doing similar work as myself."[4] Following argument of counsel the Court stated:

I'm having a little bit of a struggle about whether you're somebody I think that I should be putting in jail. Obviously if this is conduct that continued or you - and I have no indication that you actively attempted to encourage other people to engage in the same kind of conduct. You may have encouraged people to support the campaigns of the BFC (Buffalo Field Campaign) and the beliefs of the BFC, but I don't have any information in front of me that you have encouraged other people to engage in this type of civil disobedience, physically obstructing, so I'm not feeling comfortable with that.
And I also think that there are penalties I can impose that will bring home to you the seriousness of your actions far more effectively than that of putting you in - in jail being supported, rather expensively, by the United States government for a period of seven days.
So, here's what I'm going to do, Mr. Jacobs. I'm going to impose a fine of $500. Also, there's a mandatory $10 assessment for the victims of crime and a $25 court processing which brings that obligation to $535.
I'm going to order you to pay restitution to the National Park Service in the amount of $355.
I'm also going to order you to make a community service restitution payment - I shouldn't say restitution - community service payment to the Yellowstone Park Foundation Wildlife Protection Fund in the amount of $2, 500. This is an organization that does a tremendous amount for the - for Yellowstone and for the wildlife in Yellowstone, and they can - they can utilize that assistance, effectively and lawfully, I might add.
Transcript of Change of Plea and Sentencing Proceedings, Page 28 Line 10 ...

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