BREAKING: Tim DeChristopher Sentenced To Two Years In Prison

Read time: 4 mins

At 3:00 pm MST today, the end of a very long and emotional saga came to fruition as the gavel banged down on the judge’s desk in a federal courthouse in Salt Lake City, Utah. Tim DeChristopher, convicted earlier this year with two federal felonies, will be spending two years in prison for his creative act of non-violent protest against an illegitimate oil and gas lease auction set up by the Bush administration in late 2008. Known as “Bidder 70”, the climate activist swiftly shut down the auction by pretending to buy millions of dollars worth of public Utah land leases originally intended to go to oil and gas companies. Tim was immediately taken into custody on Tuesday after the two-year sentence was announced.  He faces three years probation and a $10,000 fine as well.

Many have heard of his story in the three years since he picked up that fateful Bidder 70 paddle. The trial was delayed eight times and sentencing was supposed to happen last month at the end of June, but ended up being pushed back by a month at the last minute. During this time, Tim has garnered a large following as he’s traveled the country talking about his experiences with the injustices of the court system.

He’s used this platform to effectively inspire others to consider non-violent civil disobedience as a strategy for shifting power away from domineering fossil fuel industries and back into the hands of the people fighting for a livable future. Tim talked about transforming the economy into something more than a cleaner, greener version of what is currently in place - a total system change that decentralizes large energy conglomerates, emboldens the power of local community, and works for the benefit of more than the richest 1% of the country.

It was difficult to predict how severely the judge would decide to punish Tim in the weeks before the sentencing, and speculation ran high right up until the proceedings started today. Last week, the US attorneys on the case submitted two reports to the court recommending a harsher punishment than the normal guidelines would have required. They calculated that Tim should pay almost a million dollars in fines (despite the fact that the auction itself was later deemed illegitimate) and serve a sentence that would, “effectively communicate that similar acts will have definite consequences. To be sure, a federal prison term here will deter others from entering a path of criminal behavior.”

In other words, the Obama Justice Department wanted to base Tim’s sentence on the potential future acts of others. The federal attorneys were quite forthcoming in describing their goal to win a harsher punishment for Tim in order to deter other activists from speaking and acting out against a corrupt justice system clearly captive to the influence of the fossil fuel industry.

“Any prison time is too much,” said Ashley Anderson, co-founder of DeChristopher’s non-profit, Peaceful Uprising. “It’s outrageous that the government is unfairly and unequally trying to make an example out of Tim while fossil fuel industries get away with much worse crimes everyday. This is not justice.”

[Ed. note: Laurel is currently on the scene at the Salt Lake City courthouse gathering reactions to the sentencing - DeSmog’s Brendan DeMelle is posting these live updates on her behalf.]

Update: Links to media and blog coverage of the sentencing decision (check back for more):
Salt Lake Tribune: DeChristopher gets 2 years, $10K fine for botching federal auction
Associated Press: Activist Gets Two Years Prison For Thwarting Auction
EnviroKnow: Environmental Activist Tim DeChristopher Sentenced To Two Years In Prison
Peaceful Uprising: Tim DeChristopher sentenced to 2 years in prison, taken immediately into custody
Tar Sands Action: Joy and Resolve for Tim DeChristopher

Update 1: The Salt Lake Tribune reports that about 30 DeChristopher supporters protesting the sentence on the streets outside the courthouse have been arrested for disrupting traffic. “One protester was carried off by police. Another blew a kiss. And another marched away singing with her wrists bound. The arrests were met largely by applause.”

Update 2:
Grist recorded a series of video interviews yesterday with Tim DeChristopher on his thoughts about the sentencing and the underlying issues of peaceful resistance to industry control of government. With Grist’s kind permission, we’re posting them below.

Part 1: Tim DeChristopher on the eve of being sentenced:

Part 2: Who Is Protecting The Public?

Part 3: Tim’s thoughts on peaceful civil disobedience:

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gotten 4 years. At least… of mega-bucks for punitive damages and for SURE, he will!

If you cant do the time, dont do the crime. He got off easy.

See how you feel in ten years when you and your family cannot find fresh drinking water because frack drilling has made your water unpalatable and prone to setting on fire. You armchair hypocrites don’t care about killing hundreds of millions of people in the future through today’s rampant poisoning of the ground water by Natural GAs drilling, I hope you have children so you can watch them slowly dehydrate and die from your lack vision.

And the corporations that commit crimes every day-how do you feel about them? Lobbied anyone lately to go after those criminals?

WHAT?! Arrested for collecting rainwater! It sounds too crazy to be true. Do you have a link to your source? If this is true it is proof of madness.

Best regards Leonarde

Seems I’ve heard about one of our states doing this too.. something about the city not being able to provide water if everyone was collecting it.. google “legal warnings rainwater collection”

I think I saw something on this in the documentary “The Corporation” It is true that in Utah you need a permit to collect rainwater because it diverts water from the aquifers

Permits required for rainbarrel-water; worsening historic+ droughts; AND gas-FrackinStein on a fast-track, free-reign of “only cleanest” reservoirs and ground-source water destruction terror… “Utah” is done for- burnt toast! Wonder if the Mormons know, they don’t have a prayer?!

Once FrackinStein’s done creating mkt-demand for their new, privately-owned/traded commodity-product ala supply- and price-controls: “Clear Gold”, they’ll be paying upwards of $13/gal.(drinking-quality).
~Utah must be among the folks they were calling “Big Suckers” in their outted-emails, NYT!~

DeChristopher is certainly guilty of acting stupidly. Surely he knew he was breaking the law. I think the two year prison term is unnecessary, but the $10,000 fine is appropriate.

The only thing DeChristopher is “guilty of” is acting to prevent, intervene, and/or stop a criminal, illegal-act in-progress. If you believe that should be ‘illegal’- then every individual that does this acts “stupidly” and should also be prosecuted/found guilty of felony, and fined 10-tho..
~Good luck to you calling 911 for someone to commit this newly defined, “illegal act” having the same motive/intent- as now determined by this lower-ct.’s decisions.~

That is the definition of civil disobedience. He acted in a way that was consistent with his convictions, and has willingly stood up to the consequences. In a peaceful and, I think, very intelligent way he made his point and stopped the process that was later found to be flawed and illegal itself. We should be thanking him (I am) for preventing the law from being broken.

This sentence is ridiculous. This man is a hero who stood up for the common good against the status quo. He did nothing WRONG. What’s wrong with US as a society that we continue to accept the toxic and rapacious ways in which Big Oil does business?

Just because something is deemed ‘against the law’ doesn’t make it WRONG any more than something being within the boundary of law being right. It’s deemed acceptable by law to inflict suffering and cruelty on farm animals under the auspices of commercial animal husbandry. It’s not RIGHT but you won’t get busted for it.

Tim DeChristopher is a hero. This sentencing is despicable and goes completely against what we collectively claim we stand for as a country.

This is an injustice. And sadly these injustices are now occurring regularly. To interfere in corporate profit making is to challenge state power. Environmental and animal right activism is now being treated as terrorism in America. Here is a link to a recent book titled “Green is the new Red” that details how this is happening.

And a link to a group profiled in the book who were sentenced to terms in federal prison for “conspiracy” for operating a website that opposed an animal testing company.

The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act:

Many states are now making it a felony to photograph or film animal cruelty at farms and slaughter houses and distribute those images.

“… two years in prison for his creative act of non-violent protest …”

By your logic, Bernie Madoff shouldn’t be in prison either. Certainly Madoff was even more creative, and just as non-violent.

Thanks for showing us, once again, just how much respect you phoney “environmentalists” have for the law.

The key difference would be motive… protest vs. profit. Benefiting the public vs. harming the public. Big difference.

So, Madoff’s defense team should simply said he did what he did as a “protest” – and he would have gotten off scot-free?

Leftists: Idiots as always.

Madoff’s actions weren’t civil protest. Or are you saying they were?

Maybe you could compare Madoff to Rosa Parks or the Founding Fathers, while you’re at it? Last I looked, the USA has a strong tradition of civil protest. In fact, it’s what made the USA.

Last I looked, the Founding Fathers and Rosa Parks weren’t protesting against make-believe problems.

Down with make-believe problems!

What about an illegal auction of public land to oil companies in violation of standing law is “make-believe”? Tim had the law on his side, and he wouldn’t have been there if any governmental lawyer or politician weren’t complicit in the oil companies end-run around the law.

By the way, the Founding Fathers were protesting illegally, according to the British. If you always side with Corrupt Power, then everyone who fights for liberty will be a criminal.

LOL! I think you missed the part that the BLM wasn’t selling the *land*. The auctions are for exploration rights.

Maybe that distinction is a little too subtle when your skull is filled with concrete?

Re: The “Founding Fathers”, as a loyal subject of Her Majesty, I regard your “Founding Fathers” as treasonous criminals.

not if you are spouting denial of human impacts on climate change and the environment in general you are not. HMQ is actually in favour of taking measures to protect this planet of ours from the rampages of unfettered capitalism - which is the problem.

Hint, even if you have a very large box of Smarties you cannot extract more and more each year without running out of Smarties. This Earth has finite resources, year on year economic growth is a recipe for disaster. Something has to fundamentally change here. It is the cognitive dissonance brought on by the subconscious realisation of this that makes deniers act like they do. Some of them any way, there are those who are socio-paths and don’t give a hoot for the future as long as they are rolling in it in the here and now.

Lionel A., The intentional brainwash of careless and wasteful consumption for mkt.-demand, is the hallmark of a very few, traditional and greedy ‘capitalists’. However, if all the incredible resources we’ve been given on this Earth, including human-knowledge were carefully developed and managed in new, sustainable ways- there would be no stopping economic growth, prosperity, and well-being; that box of candy would never become empty.
It is every individual’s responsibility in the vast majority, to:
-Stop and change the force-fed brainwash that only benefits the few;
-Apply the new mindset of careful, non-wasteful, and sustainable resource management and consumption to their daily lives and endeavors; and
-Elect only those who will represent, govern, and lead to this new, sustainable age of ‘Good n’ Plenty’.

No, you don’t - It’s already been established ‘thinking’ is above your capabilities at present. However, you ALMOST got the ‘illegal, criminal act’ that was in-progress correct, so there’s hope.
‘Rational thinking’ is difficult when YOU feel your head is ‘full of concrete’ and understandable- given your rare, traumatic-event that’s OBVIOUS from your thread.
Your continued outbursts of uncontrolled-anger, trying to lash-out at others is ONLY hurting you- THAT’S the nature of this kind of ‘Beast’. You’ve got nothing to loose and everything to gain- Find a good psych-doc.

TRY IN-CONTEXT; it’s, “…non-violent protest against an illegitimate (illegal) oil and gas lease auction…” and such an entirely different matter than Madoff, this incredibly ignorant logic/comment is not even worth further response.

Please enlighten us as to how the lease auctions are “illegal”?

No? Nothing?

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Yeah, that’s what I thought.”
Well- FINALLY, we do agree on something!

~BTW: STILL cheating on exams and not doing your OWN homework, eh? That may be WHY you cannot think.~

ON ANEMO-ROLL’ dude!!! And you’re apparently the only one who doesn’t know it…
Find a good psych-doc, they’re experts at ‘playing’- you’ll have fun.

That !! You got MAJOR serioous-issues and need a psych-doc. SO-
**Just to ‘encourage’ the VERY slight indication given by your above post- that you MAY have ‘more-controlled, lucid moments’– IF I give you the source/place to find the answer:
1. Will you educate yourself/read for information/do your own homework;
2. Stop hurting, ONLY yourself in being an irrational, angry-troll; and 3. See a psych-doc to work HARD WITH the doc- to make sure ‘YOUR justice’ happens?!?

Since DeChristopher has been found guilty of criminal-acts while in the process, with motive/intent to intervene, prevent, and/or stop an illegal, criminal act already in-progress; ALL those who take actions with like motive/intent: Intervening, preventing and/or stopping an illegal, criminal act already in-progress, are ALSO guilty of all THEIR actions to intervene, prevent, and/or stop it; the federal-court’s decision also revises the definition of ‘criminal acts’ with its presumption and exclusion that the criminal act in-progress is not illegal for determining and sentencing.
Therefore: Parties for immediate charges, prosecution, and sentencing would include ALL police officers- Their use/discharge of firearms, assaults, subduing/detaining individuals- are ‘criminal-acts’ given their like motive/intent with the presumption and exclusion that the criminal-act already in-progress is not illegal; firemen too, would also be guilty of criminal-acts, for any actions taken with the intent/motive to intervene or stop fires when found to be caused by arson, another criminal-act in-progress; and further, the NRA should take note of this court’s decision as it certainly effects the right and use of baring arms for self-defense, in all cases that would be a criminal act since the crime/assault in-progress and being defended with the intent/motive to prevent, intervene, and/or stop it- is given the presumption and exclusion, it is not illegal to assault/harm/murder others.

This new, judicial-precedent established by this lower, federal court is highly-unusual with far-reaching consequences as it ‘criminalizes’ actions taken to prevent, intervene, and/or stop criminal-acts in-progress; moreover, in determining and sentencing for the acts of prevention, intervention, and/or cessation- it presumes the criminal-act in-progress is not illegal. Because of this judicial-precedent’s broad scope and revision of defining ‘criminal acts’ with the presumption and exclusion they are not illegal, this lower-court’s decision merits appeal to our USA Supreme Court for review and final-determination if necessary.

Only one small problem, there, Einstein …

There was no “illegal” or “criminal” act for him to “prevent”.

The only illegal and criminal act was his own, and that’s why he’s going to the big house to be someone’s new girlfriend.

“….and if you have any children you will be able to watch them die in your arms from malnutrition and dehydration because you are to stupid to actually do a a tiny amount of reading about what FRACTURE DRILLING IS DONE WITH.”

You seem pretty ignorant about fracking, in particular, and most other things in general.

Firstly, I live in northeastern BC, where fracking has been very successfully employed for well over a decade. That area also happens to be some very productive farm and ranch land. To date, not one single person has been negatively affected.

As for reading, I have worked on frack crews, so I’m pretty sure I know what I’m talking about, and you don’t.

“Hundreds of thousands of gallons of toxic dioxin loaded chemicals”

Dioxin? Now it’s pretty obvious you don’t have the first clue.

“The result is deadly and flammable ground water, poisoned wells, dead livestock, gasious vapors that promote the rapid onset of emphesema and lung disease, cancer and a rapidly escalating infant mortality rate.”

Uh, you obviously aren’t aware that shale gas formations are located THOUSANDS of feet underground, while aquifers and wells are AT MOST, a few hundred feet beneath the surface. It is quite simply impossible for what you feverishly imagine to happen. And anyone who has told you this clearly takes you for a fool. (Quite rightly, it seems.)

As far as your other claims, please cite one single authoritative source for escalating infant mortality.

As for the rest of your tripe, it’s simply too ludicrous to even bother addressing. Also, your absolute lack of punctuation and paragraphs makes it too tedious to plow through.

Sir, with all due respect, you are clearly a gullible bufoon if you believe anything you’ve been told on a website like this, run by a PR company and paid for by David Suzuki and a convicted internet money-launderer.

They count on strident nitwits like you to further their cause. To them, you are what Lenin referred to as a “useful idiot”. The latter part of that title is debatable, of course.

You sound very frustrated and angry…

P.S. Most unfortunate that you’re one of the very small, fractional-percent with that experience in “the big house”/other?; obviously familiar with it and trying to ‘normalize’- hope you find a good psych-doc and take your meds.


Wonder if all the AGW idiots can later be found guilty of crimes againts humanity when this scam is finally accepted for what it is?

That would be poetic justice indeed.
Fine a few million of these fools to pay back the damage they are doing.


Wonder if all the AGW idiots can later be found guilty of crimes againts humanity when this scam is finally accepted for what it is?

That would be poetic justice indeed.
Fine a few million of these fools to pay back the damage they are doing.

The auction was “illegal”, was it? Please back up that claim.

You never will, of course. All you idiots ever seem to do is shriek like monkeys and throw feces out the bars of your cage.

With YOUR ‘in a cage/bars psych-issue’ again… there’s no one throwing anything at you anymore, except YOU– get a doc for some help.

We will either overthrow this decision or you will have the strength to endure…

Think not… Guess ANY mention of ‘prison’ (‘clergy’ too?) acts like a trigger to bring your split-personalities out in the open- gives ‘them’ an op to talk about your trauma and fear. You may want to consult your ‘friend-Anonymous’ on a psych-doc for PTSD and DPD (maybe even paranoia-schizo); find a good doc and take your meds.

And we call this “Justice”….

Justice would be if he got 4 years and they posted picture of him getting raped in the showers….

Zealots need to get the message.