Ronald F. Brandt Sentenced in U.S. District Cour
The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Missoula, on June 29, 2011, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah C. Lynch, RONALD F. BRANDT, a 60-year-old resident of Kalispell, appeared for sentencing. BRANDT was sentenced to a term of:
Probation: 1 year
Special Assessment: $25
BRANDT was sentenced in connection with his guilty plea to cutting and injuring trees on public land.
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 August 22, 2006, the Forest Service awarded the Blankenship Fuels Stewardship contract to Tough Go Logging, which in turn, contracted with BRANDT to be the primary harvester. Cutting began in the fall of 2008. In December 2008, the Forest Service discovered that five trees had been cut in violation of the terms of the contract. In June 2008, the Forest Service conducted a survey of the site and discovered that 510 trees had been cut in violation of the contract and 16 stumps were buried in Unit 14B. Those 16 stumps were significantly outside the sale's parameters for that unit. Most of the cutting violations were of trees bigger than what was contemplated by the contract. The contract called for the harvesting of trees that were 15 inches in diameter at breast height ("dbh") or smaller. Many of the improperly cut trees were 16 inches dbh or larger.
When interviewed on July 23, 2009, BRANDT admitted that he knew Douglas Fir trees that were seven to 15 inches dbh were authorized for cutting and fir trees with a dbh greater than 16 inches could not be cut. He said that he sometimes measured the trees before cutting, but not with every tree because it would take too much time. BRANDT admitted that he cut several trees outside the boundaries prescribed for Unit 14B and that when he cut outside the boundary he covered the stumps with dirt, debris, or other vegetation. He said he cut trees larger than authorized in Unit 14B to make the stands look good.
BRANDT was paid based on the weight of the timber he cut, so the larger the trees he cut, the more money he made. The Forest Service determined that the total value of the 16 buried trees is $307.18.
Because there is no parole in the federal system, the "truth in sentencing" guidelines mandate that BRANDT will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, BRANDT 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 U.S. Forest Service.