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Rick Bowmer, Associated Press
In this Jan. 28, 2019, photo, Rep. Phil Lyman, R-Blanding, is shown on the floor floor, at the Utah State Capitol, in Salt Lake City.
SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah House member went off on the U.S. Attorney’s Office, federal agencies and the media in a new court filing opposing government efforts to quintuple his restitution payments for an illegal ATV protest ride in a prosecution he calls “jiggery-pokery.”
“It is troubling to me that certain people in the U.S. Attorney’s Office feel compelled to continually harass me and pillory my name and reputation,” Rep. Phil Lyman, R-Blanding, wrote. “Judging from the tweets (and bad math) of Ms. Moon, I’m inclined to believe that her malice is politically motivated.”
Assistant U.S. attorney Allison J.P. Moon argued in court documents filed earlier this month that Lyman has a “heightened moral obligation” to pay now that he is a member of the Utah Legislature.
Alan Neves, KSL TV
A jury convicted Lyman in 2016 of misdemeanor trespassing after he led an ATV protest ride in a southeastern Utah canyon that the Bureau of Land Management had closed to off-road vehicles. Lyman spent 10 days in jail.
A federal judge hit him with a $95,955 bill for assessing and repairing riparian areas and archeological sites in Recapture Canyon. The court allowed him pay $100 per month.
Federal prosecutors argue that Lyman’s financial circumstances have improved since his election to the House last year and he is now capable of paying $500 a month.
Lyman, who is representing himself, contends that he actually makes less money now, having gone from $45,000 a year as a San Juan County commissioner to $20,000 as a state legislator. A certified public accountant, Lyman does not go into any more detail about his income in the court filing, saying he believes it would be used against him.
In the 12-page letter addressed to U.S. District Judge David Nuffer, Lyman questions the ethics and motives of Moon and U.S. Attorney John Huber.
“Could it be that this has come about because I am a newly elected state representative on the opposite of Ms. Moon politically? This is not a social media defamation, (which is also out of control), but an attack from the so-called highest court in Utah, the U.S. Department of Justice,” Lyman wrote.
Lyman alleges “backroom collusion” among the U.S. Attorney’s Office, BLM, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Judge Robert Shelby and the media to create a “manufactured criminal.”
“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,” he wrote.
The dictionary defines jiggery-pokery as underhanded manipulation or dealings.
Lyman writes that Huber’s office and the Department of Justice should work harder to keep their politics out of the workplace rather than as a “platform for launching a false fury of lies to ruin the lives of innocent people who happen to hold a different political view.”
Alan Neves, KSL TV
After writing that he doesn’t intend to get into the details of his court case, Lyman goes on at length about his belief that he was wrongfully prosecuted and convicted.
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“What a travesty this has been,” he wrote. “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 and, foremost, to ensure that members of my community were above reproach in the way they carried out the protest.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office had no comment Monday. Spokeswoman Melodie Rydalch said the office would file its response in court.
Court documents show Lyman has a $90,105 balance on his restitution, with the judgment against him expiring in April 2036. His probation ended last December.
At the current rate, he would pay only another $20,500 before that date, according to court documents. If he were to pay $500 a month, he will have paid in full by 2034.