EUGENE, Ore. — An Eastern Oregon rancher and his adult son, who were found guilty of setting fires on federal rangeland, have been given sentences far below the mandatory minimum.
U.S. District Judge Michael Hogan agreed with defense lawyers that setting fire to juniper trees and sagebrush was not the type of crime Congress had in mind when it set mandatory minimum five-year sentences for anyone who maliciously damages or destroys federal property by fire.
The Register-Guard reports that on Tuesday in Eugene, Hogan sentenced 70-year-old Dwight Hammond Jr. to three months and gave 43-year-old Steven Dwight Hammond a sentence of a year and a day.
The Harney County men were convicted last June in Pendleton for a 2001 fire set near Steens Mountain. Steven Hammond was also convicted in a 2006 fire near the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
The prosecution argued that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management warned the Hammonds in 1999 against setting range fires to improve the grass for cattle, but they went ahead anyway.
Congrats to David James for his winning submission, 'Annabella smelling the Balsam.'
Share your experiences as part of EarthFix's Public Insight Network.
Join our Public Insight Network!