Blazing a Trail to Jail
Sometimes blazing your own path can be a good thing and can lead to prosperity. In the case of a Livingston, Montana man, however, blazing his own path — literally — landed him in jail.
Francis Leroy McLain, 60, was sentenced to five months in federal prison, received a $2,000 fine and ordered to pay $25,000 in restitution for damage done by building an illegal ATV route in a national forest.
McLain, who pleaded guilty last month to the misdemeanor charge of damage to government property for trail work done in Gallatin National Forest, built the trail behind his home.
By agreeing to a misdemeanor, McLain avoided the indictment on a felony charges and was looking at a maximum of one year in prison and $100,000 fine.
In court, McLain told the judge that he enjoyed hiking in the forest behind his property and thought he'd clear some blown-down trees from a trail and reduce the fire hazard.
However, U.S. Forest Service officials determined that McLain built a mile-and-a-half-long, six-foot-wide ATV trail. It is estimated that it'll cost $33,000 to restore the land to prevent erosion and dispose of downed trees that McLain had stacked.
McLain's prison term will run concurrently with a four-year federal sentence he is serving for tax evasion in Minnesota.