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Press Release

Fargo Man Sentenced for Attempting to Derail a BNSF Train

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of North Dakota

Fargo – United States Attorney Drew Wrigley announced that U.S. District Court Chief Judge Peter D. Welte sentenced Skylar Dayne Goodman, age 19 of Fargo, ND, to four days’ incarceration followed by three years of supervised released for attempting to derail a Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) train in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1992(a)(1) and corruptly attempting to obstruct an official proceeding in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(2). Judge Welte also ordered Goodman to pay $3,124 in restitution to BNSF Railway.

On May 7, 2020, a BNSF train was traveling from Brenkenridge, Minnesota to Black Thunder Mine in Wyoming when it approached a crossing one mile west of Casselton at which point it encountered a rough track. The crew on the train immediately reported the rough track and that same evening a train inspector discovered a re-railer. A re-railer is a tool used by railroading contractors to place a train back on the track after a derailment and they’re capable of causing a train to derail. A Re-railer is typically painted bright yellow in the event it is inadvertently left on the track. The re-railer discovered on the railroad track on the evening of May 7, 2020, was spray-painted black.

An investigation by the BNSF and FBI revealed that Skylar Goodman placed the rerailer on the track on the evening of May 7, 2020. Following his arrest for attempting to derail the train, an acquaintance of the defendant’s contacted law enforcement with an incredulous story that exonerated the defendant. Further investigation by BNSF and the

FBI revealed that this individual was threatened by defendant to fabricate a story that falsely exonerated defendant’s involvement in the attempted train derailment.

"This defendant planned and attempted a serious attack on critical infrastructure and human life, and then he obstructed the federal investigation," said United States Attorney Drew Wrigley, who added that "while we respect the judge in this matter, we take strong exception to a sentence that allows the defendant to walk free, avoiding the applicable guideline sentence of 2 to 2-1/2 years in federal prison."

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, BNSF Police Department and Cass County Sheriff’s Department, and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Puhl.

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Terry W. Van Horn 701-297-7458

Updated February 19, 2021