Both cases were delivered on my doorstep this morning when I picked up my copy of the Salt Lake Tribune.
Okay, so I guess that there's room for definition in the area of "major arson". Quoting "the judge said that the Teasdale man would never be able to repay the $3.2 million it cost to fight the Lost Lake Fire". To me, that sounds like some kind of a big deal.
From the other article two pages away, "A California man faces up to life in prison after being found guilty of operating a marijuana farm on U.S. Forest Service land in Iron County".
So some arson, some pot, but then what?
To me, the pot farm, except for where it's at, sounds pretty mundane. Some local folks noticed something and called the cops. Surveillance/investigation followed. Long story short, dude gets snagged with 80 pounds of bud, and then "the raid" gives the DEA another 4,211 plants to charge against.
So, what the hell, why not charge for a potential life sentence? "DEA will continue to stand steadfast with our federal, state, and local partners to keep dangerous drug trafficking organizations from setting up grow operations on public lands in Utah".
Oh, yeah, "public lands"! Of which all too little good stuff is left thanks to cattle grazing, sheep grazing, mining, abuse by motorized vehicles, and oil drilling. Oh, did I leave pot farming off of that list? Yeah, I'm pretty sure that there have been a few "grows" over the course of the last ten years, but, purely acrerage wise, not enough to notice.
So, anyway, back to the guy who confessed to burning down the forest. Dude had a pissing match with his significant other and decided to go out back to ...? But, anyway, according to his confession, some trees got in his way on his journey, and already being upset, he reasonably decided to make nature pay the price. "Fuck it, you don't like me, and I don't like you, so I give you FIRE." Or something like that.
In any event, $3.2 million later the U.S. Forest Service unilaterally decrees leniency. "Because of the amount of damages and the low probablity that significant recovery will occur , we have decided not to attempt recovery through restitution in this action".
In all fairness Lance Durfey has been sentenced to 180 days in jail. And the prosecutor said "the Forest Servive will likely collect money from Durfey in a different manner, such as from tax returns."
On the other hand, the only thing required to avoid having a tax return is to have income underwithheld. So, just put the extra "takehome" in a bank account, and give it to Uncle Sam on April 15.
Oh, and the couple of bucks extra interest that ends up left over. Feel free to enjoy a latte!