Environmental activist jail sentence raises questions about US justice

Are you kidding me? If we ever saw an even playing field in the American justice system, perhaps, but it rarely works out that way. If you are part of the privileged corporate elite you can get away with anything, but not as an individual. Halliburton defrauding the US government of millions in Iraq? Slap on the wrist. Wall Street defrauding customers and driving the country and world into recession? No dessert tonight and do better next time. Environmental activist protests Bush land giveaway to Big Oil? Go to jail for two years.

As Bidder No 70, DeChristopher disrupted what was seen as a last giveaway to the oil and gas industry by the Bush administration by bidding $1.8m (£1.1m) he did not have for the right to drill in remote areas of Utah. He was convicted of defrauding the government last March.

In a phone conversation with The Guardian, a day ahead of sentencing, he said he was expecting jail time: “I do think I will serve some time in prison. That is what I think will be the next chapter in my life.”

DeChristopher’s lawyers had argued that his actions in December 2008 were a one-off, and that the judge should show leniency. They argued DeChristopher had not intended to cause harm.

However, Judge Dee Benson said DeChristopher’s political beliefs did not excuse his actions.


An American in Paris, France. BA in History & Political Science from Ohio State. Provided consulting services to US software startups, launching new business overseas that have both IPO’d and sold to well-known global software companies. Currently launching a new cloud-based startup. Full bio here.

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