Tim DeChristopher transferred to Utah halfway house

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 24 2012 6:00 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Environmental activist Timothy DeChristopher was transferred Wednesday from federal prison to a halfway house in Salt Lake City, according to his attorney.

DeChristopher, who inspired a national following by posing as a bidder to protest a December 2008 Bureau of Land Management auction, arrived in Utah by train.

"He's most anxious to see his friends and supporters," defense attorney Patrick Shea said.

Following his conviction at a March 2011 trial in federal court, DeChristopher was given a two-year prison term. He spent time in Colorado and later was transferred to Northern California, where he was housed at the Herlong Federal Prison.

Last month DeChristopher lost his appeal before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on convictions for violating provisions of the onshore oil and gas development leasing act and misrepresenting himself as a bidder.

No further appeals are anticipated, Shea said.

DeChristopher, a University of Utah economics student in 2008, had planned to join protesters outside a BLM auction in Salt Lake City, where multiple parcels were on the table for potential oil and gas development. Instead, he went inside, registered as a bidder and was given a placard, No. 70, to raise for bidding on parcels.

The activist ended up winning more than a dozen parcels valued at $1.8 million, though he lacked the money to pay for them. DeChristopher has said too many of the parcels were located in scenic vistas and he bid on them to protect the planet from climate change.

Although his attorneys tried to raise the legal argument that DeChristopher acted out of necessity to protect the environment, that defense was shot down and climate change never became a issue in his legal case.

DeChristopher will be eligible for release from the Salt Lake halfway house to home supervision in February, Shea said. In April, he'll be placed on supervised release, the federal system's version of probation.

Shea said his client intends to remain involved in the environmental movement, to the extent his probation will allow.

"He's still very dedicated to the principles and will continue to be an activist," Shea said. "But he's going to have some restraints from the (U.S. Probation Office)."

E-mail: gliesik@desnews.com

Twitter: GeoffLiesik

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