Pablo Joseph Gonzalez Iv Sentenced in U.S. District Cour
The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Billings, on September 7, 2011, before Chief U.S. District Judge Richard F. Cebull, PABLO JOSEPH GONZALEZ IV, a 22-year-old resident of Great Falls, appeared for sentencing.
He was sentenced to a term of:
Probation: 2 years
Special Assessment: $50
He was sentenced in connection with his guilty plea to theft of government property.
In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica T. Fehr, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
On July 9, 2009, law enforcement was notified that the fee tube at the United States Forest Service (USFS) Emerald Lake Campground in Stillwater County on the Custer National Forest, had been broken into and the money stolen out of it. Fee tubes are the stationary objects the USFS uses to collect camping fees in its campgrounds.
The reported theft occurred either late in the evening of July 8 or the early morning hours of July 9. The time line was determined through interviews of other campground guests.
Law enforcement examined the fee tube and determined that someone appeared to have used a pry bar to break the padlock off of the fee tube and then the base plate was pried out and the money stolen from the fee tube. A tire tool was recovered from the grass near the fee tube and appeared to be the pry bar that was used to break off the padlock.
USFS fee collection personnel advised that the last time the fee tube had been emptied was Friday, July 3, 2009. There are thirty one campsites at the Emerald Lake Campground. The USFS Developed Recreation Program Manager for the Beartooth Ranger District estimated the amount stolen out of the fee tube would have been about $850.
On July 12, 2009, law enforcement was notified that the fee tube at Emerald Lake Campground had been broken into again and the money stolen. The incident occurred sometime late on July 11 or July 12. The lock had been broken off with some sort of pry bar. The base plate was then pried out and the money removed from the fee tube.
USFS fee collection personnel had removed the money from the fee tube during the day of July 11. The USFS Developed Recreation Program Manager estimated that there would have been $50 to $100 deposited in the fee tube after the FS employees removed the money.
Local law enforcement informed the Forest Service that around the same time as the fee tube break in's, several vehicles were also broken into. Local law enforcement and Forest Service personnel began to watch the campgrounds at night.
On August 9, 2009, Forest Service law enforcement encountered GONZALEZ and another individual as they attempted to break into vehicles parked at the Mystic Lake Trail head parking lot. Both individuals were arrested and questioned. Both individuals admitted to being at the campgrounds in July and to participating in the fee tube break ins. The other individual admitted to breaking the fee tubes open while GONZALEZ waited in the car. GONZALEZ and the other individual shared the cash removed from the fee tubes and threw the checks in the river. The duo estimated they obtained $275 to $300 from the first fee tube they broke into at the Emerald Lake Campground and $100 the second time from the Emerald Lake Campground.
The investigation was conducted by the Law Enforcement and Investigations Division of the U.S. Forest Service.