A jury reached a verdict in the case of The United States vs. Tim DeChristopher on Thursday.
A jury convicted Tim DeChristopher of fraud over his bogus bids for oil and gas drilling leases, after deliberating for approximatley four hours.
DeChristopher was accused of fraud by submitting bogus bids during a Bureau of Land Management oil and gas lease auction in 2008.
DeChristopher has since claimed that he did it to curtail global warming.
In closing arguments Thursday morning, Prosecutor Greg Huber claimed DeChristopher went to the auction on December 19, 2008 with the intention of committing sabotage.
“He chose a path of illegality and criminal conduct,” said Huber. “He wanted to derail the auction. He posed as a bidder. He drove up prices and he smirked as he did so.”
DeChristopher’s defense attorney Ron Yengich argued that his client’s intention was “far from clear’ during his closing statement to the jury.
Yengich argued that despite comment s from DeChristopher’s that explained his beliefs in global warming, his client did not conspire to disrupt the auction.
“He had no desire to bid,” said Yengich. “A lady directed him over to the bidder table because she thought he was a representative for an oil company.”
Yengich also argued that DeChristopher made a “spur of the moment” decision when he decided to bid on land parcels.
“He wasn’t there to fool anyone,” said Yengich. “What he did was to come in, and when he saw what was happening, in hid mind, he wanted to offer a statement. He was offering hope for people.”
Several protestors supporting DeChristopher have gathered outside the federal courthouse during the trial.
DeChristopher is an admitted environmental activist who believes man-made factors have contributed to climate change.
DeChristopher faces up to a $750,000 fine and 10 years in federal prison if convicted.