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Feds fine four men for trespassing island refuge

By Stephen Betts | Jan 10, 2020
Metinic Island

Portland — A federal judge Friday afternoon fined four men, including an Owls Head resident, $1,500 each for trespassing on a national wildlife refuge in 2018.

Clayton Witham, 58, of Owls Head; Benjamin Tucker Thompson, 59, of Freeport; Peter Johnson, 58, of Littleton, Mass.; and Thomas Wengler, 59, of South Dennis, Mass. made their initial appearances Jan. 10 in U.S. District Court in Portland on single counts of trespass on federal land.

Magistrate Judge John Rich III accepted the guilty pleas from the four men and imposed the fine.

The maximum sentence for the offense is 180 days in jail and a $5,000 fine.

According to the U.S. Attorney's version of the case, the four men as well as other friends and family members went on the Metinic Island National Wildlife Refuge on the island located seven miles off St. George Aug. 11, 2018.

The four pitched tents for overnight, mowed the grass, and built a fire, according to the prosecution.

The federal government owns 149 acres on the northern half of the island. The southern half is privately owned and Witham owns land that abuts the refuge.

The public is prohibited from going on the property from April 1 through Aug. 30 to protect the seasonal nesting of seabirds.

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Comments (3)
Posted by: johanna stadler | Jan 11, 2020 13:06

and the grass cutting is the probalby the whole issue since many of these birds nest in the grass.  Doesn't seem extreme.  Seems to me the dude lives there he should know the laws better than most.



Posted by: Marybeth Wadsworth | Jan 10, 2020 20:37

Seems extreme. The Withams own alot of that island. I dont understand this verdict.



Posted by: T A Schwab | Jan 10, 2020 19:00

Who cuts the grass??



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