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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Friday, April 08, 2011

ARIZONA MAN SENTENCED FOR OFF-ROAD DAMAGE AT VERMILION CLIFFS NATIONAL MONUMENT

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark E. Aspey recently sentenced a Fredonia man to three years probation and $7,500 in restitution for damaging the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument with his off-road vehicle. Melvin Mognett, 67, of Fredonia pleaded guilty to Off Road Travel with Resource Damage on March 29 in federal district court in Flagstaff. Judge Aspey also forbade Mognett from recreation on Bureau of Land Management public lands during his probation.

“Vermilion Cliffs National Monument is a national treasure, and inappropriate use of off-road vehicles can cause irreparable damage,” said U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke. “This office will diligently investigate and prosecute these crimes to protect Arizona’s public lands.”

On May 29, 2010, a BLM law enforcement ranger patrolling in Vermilion Cliffs – near Lake Powell and the Utah border -- found ATV tracks which went off road for nearly three miles. When the ranger located the defendant and his ATV, the investigation matched Mognett’s tires and shoe pattern to the off-road vehicle tracks and shoe prints found on patrol. The defendant admitted that he knew that off road travel was prohibited but admitted that he had driven his ATV off road to look more closely at geologic and archeological sites of interest.

This remote, unspoiled 294,000-acre national monument includes the Paria Plateau, Coyote Buttes and Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness areas and contains many outstanding natural resources like towering cliffs, deep canyons, and spectacular sandstone formations.

Public Affairs
ROBBIE SHERWOOD
Telephone:(602) 514-7573 | Cell:(602) 740-2422
ROBERT.SHERWOOD@USDOJ.GOV
WWW.JUSTICE.GOV/USAO/AZ

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