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Francis Leroy Mclain Sentenced in U.S. District Cour

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, January 15, 2010

The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Billings, on January 14, 2010, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Carolyn S. Ostby, FRANCIS LEROY McLAIN appeared for sentencing. McLAIN was sentenced to a term of:

  • Prison: 5 months, concurrent with a Minnesota sentence
  • Special Assessment: $25
  • Restitution: $25,000
  • Fine: $2,000
  • Supervised Release: 1 year

McLAIN was sentenced in connection with his guilty plea to damage to government property.

In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Racicot, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:

On July 5, 2006, a Forest Service Patrol Captain received information that McLAIN had constructed an illegal ATV trail through the Gallatin National Forest.

On July 6, 2006, the Patrol Captain located the trail, which was over one mile long. He observed ATV tracks coming from McLAIN'S property and continuing along the illegal trail. The fence between McLAIN's property and Forest Service land had been cut, the wires were pulled back, and posts had been pulled out of the ground. At the end of the trail he discovered evidence of recent chainsaw work and also found two chainsaws and other trail construction tools. He noted the serial numbers on the chainsaws and later matched those serial numbers to McLAIN'S chainsaw purchase receipts. The Patrol Captain drove by McLAIN'S residence and observed three ATVs parked on his property. He also saw fresh ATV tracks leaving McLAIN'S residence and heading in the direction of the illegal trail.

On July 8, 2006, one of McLAIN'S neighbors told the Patrol Captain that he had been hiking in the Gallatin National Forest the previous November when he noticed the ATV trail and heard a chainsaw running nearby. The neighbor saw the lights from the ATV indicating it was running at the time. He hid away from the trail and noticed a man with a white beard cutting and clearing trees with an orange and black chainsaw. The neighbor watched the man cutting for about 30 minutes before he walked up to the ATV trail and the man introduced himself as McLAIN. McLAIN told the neighbor that he wanted to build a trail through the forest and across neighboring lands so he could venture into the forest to see more sights, animals, and wildlife. The neighbor saw McLAIN hide his chainsaw. While walking away, the neighbor heard McLAIN start his ATV and watched him ride away through the forest on the trail.

Experts who examined the trail - including a timber cruiser, a lands specialist and a soil scientist - determined that it was approximately six feet in width and between one and 1.5 miles long. There was substantial damage to adjacent trees. The downed trees had been piled into small decks. The experts estimated that the cost of disposing of the bucked material would be $7,627 and the cost of restoring the land's productivity and preventing erosion would be $25,948.

Because there is no parole in the federal system, the "truth in sentencing" guidelines mandate that McLAIN will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, McLAIN does have the opportunity to earn a sentence reduction for "good behavior." However, this reduction will not exceed 15% of the overall sentence.

The investigation was conducted by the Law Enforcement and Investigations Division of the Forest Service.

 

 

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