Man Spends 18 months in Jail for Burning Firewood

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Man Spends 18 months in Jail for Burning Firewood.

March 13, 2002

The Idaho Observer

Earl Waite recently returned home after spending 18 months at the federal prison in Sheridan, Oregon. Waite, 56, was accused by U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Special Agent Pat Green of having cut nine cords of firewood from state lands to which federal administrators claim ownership in what is commonly recognized as the Salmon-Challis and Sawtooth National Forest.
Waite claims he only cut one Douglas fir tree up for firewood and that he had permits allowing him to do so.

By summer's end, 1998, Waite and his son had cut and stacked 48 cords of firewood, all but nine cords were cut from private land.

Waite and his son had worked hard all summer cutting firewood. There is evidence suggesting that Green confiscated the wood in an attempt to force Waite to tell Green as to "who" was doing some unauthorized work on a road near the area the firewood allegedly came from.

"I tried to tell him I didn't know and showed him where the grass was growing up between the blades of my bulldozers to prove that I hadn't done it," Waite explained.

When Waite couldn't tell him who had been doing unauthorized cat work in the federal forest, Green and his posse of armed men seized all 48 cords of firewood at gunpoint.

Several months later, May 5, 1999, Waite was indicted for "willfully retaining U.S. property in excess of $1,000....with intent to convert the property to his own use or gain," and two counts of perjury. Waite pled not guilty on all counts because that was the truth.

Vendetta?

This was not the first time the truthful and honorable Waite had experienced the bureaucratic wrath of Green. In 1995 Green filed criminal charges against Waite in Idaho District Federal Court for plowing a USFS road that led to a mining claim and some property owned by Waite and his family.

Green claimed that Waite had damaged the road with his bulldozer. Waite, who had been building roads and operating heavy equipment in the area for some 30 years, does not believe that a road full of potholes is damaged after you've filled in the potholes.

Rather than waste his limited resources by hiring an attorney in this frivolous matter, Waite defended himself. He showed Federal Magistrate Judge Larry Boyle the statute that authorizes him to keep the road to his private property open even if the road crosses through federal land.

Judge Boyle dismissed the charges against Waite. Those that know Green and how his mind works believe the dismissal dealt a severe blow to his bureaucratic esteem. They believe Green was awaiting the day when he could even some imaginary score.

Who "owns" the forest?

We can gain some insight into Green's behavior through comments found on a USDA Forest Service "Report of Investigation" document dated October 15, 1998. The document describes how Green was told by Challis Ranger District helicopter pilot P.J. Smith that he had seen Waite hauling large pieces of Douglas fir to his property from across the helicopter base. "Smith informed Green that Waite was also stacking some of the wood on a piece of property that was owned by the Forest Service."

The Big Lie

According to Hari Heath, a staff writer for The Idaho Observer, the federal government is merely administrating state land (The Big Lie: Federal Ownership of Public Lands, The Idaho Observer, August, 2001).

Heath quoted from the U.S. Constitution, the Idaho State Constitution, implementing legislation and other authoritative documents to prove that federal ownership of public lands is a big lie. In fact, there are 52,712 square miles of the Big Lie in Idaho and 70 percent of the acreage west of the Rockies is also part of the Big Lie.

The originally stated intent was for the federal government to manage certain state lands that were "owned" by the public. Even if federal ownership was the actual intent of federal management, it wasn't until recently that federal agents would be so brazen as to openly admit their belief that the federal government "owns" public lands.

Courtroom perjuries

In a letter to Assistant U.S. Attorney Wendy Olsen, Waite's attorney in the wood case James Annest demanded that Green be brought before a grand jury for possible indictment on charges of perjury.

"I have given long and careful thought to the issue of Mr. Green's perjured testimony at the Grand Jury and his perjured affidavit to obtain the Search and Seizure Warrant by which he obtained a warrant to seize the wood from Mr. Waite's property. Obviously his testimony was a material statement of fact intended to not only direct the Grand Jury in returning an indictment against Mr. Waite, but it was his intention to direct the Court by this false and misleading statement to issue the warrant to search and seize."

Annest also mentions that Green told the court that the area known as Rankin Creek where Waite was cutting wood was closed to such purposes which was, "false and perjurious."

"In view of the developments in this case (conviction and sentencing) it is absolutely necessary that Mr. Green be prosecuted for his perjury."

Annest then demanded that Olsen bring the matter before a grand jury for the purpose of indicting Green for perjury. "There simply can be no justification for him [Green] to lie to the Grand Jury, lie to the Court and be protected by the United States Attorney's Office in so doing. We will expect your prompt action in this regard," Annest concluded.

Green was never brought before a grand jury

One can see why federal officials such as Green are promoted in public service rather than prosecuted for their actions. In order to protect the Big Lie the federal government must hire and protect faithful little liars. Where such behavior is not usually tolerated in the private sector, it has become a necessary and vital part of public service.

Though Waite was a respected and appreciated member of the community who did not have a police record before this incident, he was sent to prison for cutting nine cords of firewood for which he had obtained permits.

Though Green stated in court that the area from which the wood had been cut was closed to wood cutters, it was proved in court that it was not closed. When shown a map of the area, Green admitted he must have made a mistake, yet the federal court allowed USFS to continue prosecuting this innocent civilian.

Though only nine of the 48 cords seized were in controversy, the outstanding 39 cords of wood were never returned.

Judge Winmill sentenced Waite to 18 months in prison that began August 30, 2000. He was also given a $4,000 fine and three years probation.

Waite is currently exploring his civil remedies with regard the perjured testimony from Green that led to his wrongful incarceration. Green is still in the employ of the USFS in the Challis area.
 


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