Evan Ross Asleson Sentenced in U.S. District Cour
The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Great Falls, on October 21, 2010, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Keith Strong, EVAN ROSS ASLESON, a 35-year-old resident of Belt, appeared for sentencing. ASLESON was sentenced to a term of:
- Special Assessment: $50
- Restitution: $8,000
- Fine: $2,000
ASLESON was sentenced in connection with his guilty plea to theft of government property, damage to government property, and cutting and removing timber from public lands.
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:
During the fall of 2007, Forest Service law enforcement received a report of trees cut on Forest Service lands near Monarch. In February 2008, while investigating the cut trees, a law enforcement officer contacted ASLESON's mother in order to gain permission to access the area. The officer asked her about the log home being built on the ASLESON property and she explained that her son, EVAN ASLESON, was constructing the cabin with logs he was cutting on a neighbor's property. ASLESON evidently had an agreement with the neighbor to cut some standing, dead, beetle-killed trees on his property for $2 a linear foot. The northern boundary of the neighbor's property borders the National Forest. As of July 22, 2008, ASLESON had paid the neighbor $800 for roughly 40 trees.
The law enforcement officer returned to the area in June 2008 to continue his investigation. It was determined at that time that the majority of the trees cut by ASLESON were on the National Forest.
On August 13, 2008, ASLESON advised a special agent that he located the survey section points prior to cutting any trees. He also stated that he knew that a fence in the area where he was cutting did not follow the actual forest boundary.
On August 22, 2008, when ASLESON again spoke to the agent about the trees, he said that he did not know where the boundary was between the National Forest and his neighbor until the agent told him the location. He admitted to cutting the trees in that area, which number around 160, but claimed that he did not know they were on the National Forest when he cut them. ASLESON stated that he simply followed the fence line.
Of the approximately 160 trees that ASLESON cut on the National Forest, nearly all of them were of a large diameter, the type that could be used for constructing a log home. According to Forest Service investigators, the boundary between the National Forest and ASLESON's neighbor is easy to see and it is clear that the 160 trees were on National Forest System lands. Most of the stumps were within 50 to 100 feet of that boundary (and between the fence and the actual boundary). Furthermore, the beetle-killed trees on the neighbor's property were located on the south side of that property; very few beetle-killed trees were on the north side, which is the portion of the property bordering the National Forest.
In addition to the 160 trees referenced above, other trees were cut along a Forest Service road. ASLESON admitted to cutting those trees as well, but claimed he had done so in accordance with his firewood permit. Investigators also observed skidder tracks that started on the Forest Service road, where the trees were being cut, and ran the entire length of the road, ending on ASLESON's private property where approximately 70 logs were found and photographed. The skidding activities on road resulted in a damaged culvert which required repair.
The investigation was conducted by the Law Enforcement and Investigations Division of the U.S. Forest Service.