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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Oregon

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Oregon Man Convicted for Unlawfully Occupying Federal Land

EUGENE, Ore. - On April 18, 2016 a federal jury in Eugene, Oregon, convicted Kenneth Medenbach, 63, of Crescent, Oregon, for unlawful occupying federal lands managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

In May 2015, Medenbach delivered a letter to BLM claiming “adverse possession” of 320 acres of federal public lands in Josephine County, Oregon.  Medenbach erected a small cabin on public lands along a BLM road and refused to remove it despite repeated warnings by BLM.  BLM regulations provide that a person may not camp or occupy the same site for more than 14 days without authorization.  Medenbach was later charged with unlawful occupation and illegal camping. 

Medenbach argued that the public land he was occupying did not belong to the United States because the federal government did not have constitutional authority to possess public lands in Oregon.  Medenbach also argued that federal courts did not have authority to interpret the U.S. Constitution.  U.S. District Judge Michael McShane rejected both legal claims and the jury convicted him on both of the charges at trial.  Judge McShane ordered the removal of Medenbach’s illegal cabin after the jury verdict.

Medenbach, will be sentenced on August 1, 2016.  He faces up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine. 

This case was investigated by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Douglas W. Fong.

Updated April 19, 2016