Utah lawmaker refuses to make higher payments in ATV protest case; accuses feds of ‘jiggery-pokery’

State lawmaker Phil Lyman is fighting a request by federal prosecutors that he increase his monthly restitution payment for his 2015 conviction for leading an ATV protest ride when he was a San Juan County commissioner, date and location not specified | Photo courtesy of Phil Lyman, St. George News

Lyman wrote in a court filing Friday that he makes $25,000 less as a Utah lawmaker than what he was paid as a county commissioner. He accused the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Utah of harming his reputation and harassing him, motivated by politics.

Prosecutors argued earlier this month that Lyman has a “heightened moral obligation” to increase his monthly payment five-fold to $500 a month because he receives taxpayer money.

Lyman revived an argument he tried to make during his 2015 trial that prosecutors colluded with environmental groups to make him look like a criminal. Prosecutors rejected that theory at a trial that ended with a jury finding Lyman guilty of misdemeanor illegal use of ATVs and conspiracy.

“I spent hundreds of thousands of dollars simply to bring this decay to light, not only for my own acquittal but for the exoneration of others in my community whose lives have been destroyed by this same jiggery pokery,” said Lyman, who is representing himself in the case.The term jiggery pokery means underhanded manipulation or dealings.Lyman became a cause celebre in a movement challenging federal management of Western public lands when he organized an ATV ride through a canyon closed to vehicles that is home to Native American cliff dwellings.

Prosecutors want him to pay $500 a month, up from $100. That would pay off the $90,000 he still owes of the $96,000 in restitution imposed by a judge in 2015 who sentenced Lyman to 10 days in jail and three years of probation.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office declined comment Tuesday through spokeswoman Melodie Rydalch, who said prosecutors would respond in a court filing at a future date.

The Deseret News first reported the story.

Lyman, an accountant from Blanding, didn’t mention how much he makes from that business, only writing about his pay as a state legislator.

In his nine-page filing, Lyman defended his actions in the 2014 ride and called his prosecution a “travesty.”

“I recognize that there are criminals in the world, but I also know that I am not one of them and that I did everything possible to ensure that the protest was carried out legally and peacefully,” Lyman wrote.

Written by BRADY McCOMBS Associated Press

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