Pipeline protester must pay over $3K in fines - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

Pipeline protester must pay over $3K in fines

Posted: Updated:

UPDATE: 

It is a case that began 18 months ago just south of big sandy.  Leonard Higgins was one of 5 people across the nation attempting to take a stand against the Dakota Access pipeline by shutting off a valve at an Enbridge oil site.

His action landed hI'm a lawsuit, a guilty verdict and Tuesday he was  sentenced at the Chouteau County Courthouse.

The self proclaimed "climate activist" Leonard Higgins walked into the courtroom Tuesday morning ready to walkout in handcuffs.

Much to his surprise that did not happen.  Judge Daniel Boucher, ordered him to pay almost $4,000 in fines, 10 percent supervision fee and a three year deferred sentence.  
Which meant Higgins will not see the inside of a jail cell and as long has he abides by the law his record will be wiped clean after those 3 years.

"I almost can't believe it. I think this is one of those things that's going to take sometime to accept that im not going to be serving time 
its been hanging over my head for so long,"said Higgins.

Prior to the ruling the prosecution had requested Higgins pay $28,000 to Enbridge for damage they said he caused at their site, which included the cost of employees checking the lines in both the US and Canada. And a 10-year max deferred sentence. 
Judge Boucher didn't agree.  Based on the fact that Higgins wasn't profiting from the crime, had only one prior charge for protesting in Oregon and his age, the judge felt the ruling he handed down was more in line with the actions Higgins took 

"You will be held accountable for your actions in a given situation but this is not going to be a windfall for the corporations the courts aren't going to attempt to crush this type of activism at this point in history," said Lauren Regan, Attorney. 

While the trial itself may have ended with a guilty verdict Higgins said that the ruling  gave him hope for the future and the future of our planet


UPDATE:

Leonard Higgins has been sentenced by Judge Daniel Bousher to pay $3,755.47 plus a 10% supervision fee. In addition, he received a 3-year deferred sentence, meaning once he completes the prior listed requirements without violating any other laws after 3 years, it could be wiped from his record.

He could have faced 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine on the criminal mischief charge alone.


UPDATE:


According to the secretary for the Chouteau County Attorney, they have not agreed upon the amount of restitution Higgins has to pay. His sentencing is scheduled for March 20th in Fort Benton.


UPDATE: 5:28 PM

Fort Benton: Jurors have found Leonard Higgins guilty of criminal mischief and trespassing.  

 When the verdict came down the air in this courtroom was vibrating with anticipation

Moments after the judgment was read, the crowd showed their support of Higgins by forming an honor line 

First thing Wednesday morning Higgins took the stand in his own defense. He explained why he shut off the valve on the spectra energy property in October of last year
He says his actions were a symbolic act against climate change and if he could do it again he would. 

"My only regret is that I didn't start working on this problem sooner as I spoke in my testimony when I neared retirement I looked back on how I spent my time I worked long hours and you know was interested on having a nice house, nice cars and I wish I would have spent more time with my family and I wish I would have known about this problem sooner and joined in with others," said Higgins.  

He said in the months leading up to the incident a huge amount of planning was done to make sure that when he did turn the valve off, no one would get hurt. That included informing Spectra Energy of the plan so they had time to turn off the flow of oil in that pipeline, which they did. 

"We worked really hard to have the action harm neither people nor property," said Higgins.

The prosecution said Higgins is not in custody at this time.   

His sentencing will be held on January second at 2 pm in the Chouteau County Courthouse. 


UPDATE: 1:02 PM

Fort Benton: Jurors have found Leonard Higgins guilty of criminal mischief and trespassing.  

Higgins faces up to 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine on the criminal mischief charge, a felony. Trespassing is a misdemeanor with a penalty of up to six months in county jail and a $500 fine.

Sentencing is scheduled for January 2018.


65-year-old Leonard Higgins turned off an emergency valve at a Spectra Energy site last October just south of Big Sandy.

Not only did the self-proclaimed activist admit to turning the valve off. He videotaped himself doing it.

Higgins was part of a group of people spread out over five states who warned the energy company of their plans to turn off emergency valves. 

Spectra, now Enbridge Inc. took precautionary measures to ensure no damage would be done by stopping the flow of oil.

Tuesday he made his first appearance at the Chouteau County Courthouse in Fort Benton.  Higgins is admitting guilt to trespassing but says he's not guilty of causing $1500 worth of damages. 

"What I can say is that it is our position that he didn't commit a felony,  he committed a misdemeanor and a misdemeanor is what's called a lesser included offense to that felony.  So Mr. Higgins isn't denying that he damaged property, yeah he cut three chains but those three chains are less than $1,500 worth of damage," said defense attorney Herman Watson IV.

Michael Barnes, spokesperson for Enbridge sent KFBB a statement:

"The actions taken last year to unlawfully trespass on our facility and tamper with equipment were dangerous and reckless.  The individuals involved in this activity claim to be protecting the environment, but their actions alone are inviting an environmental incident and put the safety of all people, including themselves, potentially first responders, the community and our employees, at risk.  We take this very seriously and we are supporting the prosecution of all those involved."

The trial is expected to continue Wednesday morning and wrap up by the end if the day. If that is not possible they will pick they will pick back up next Wednesday.

  • Most Popular

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Wolf-like animal killed near Denton

    Wolf-like animal killed near Denton

    Thursday, May 24 2018 10:54 AM EDT2018-05-24 14:54:36 GMT
    Thursday, May 24 2018 7:12 PM EDT2018-05-24 23:12:04 GMT
    Image Courtesy KXLOImage Courtesy KXLO

    DENTON - One family in Denton said they called Fish Wildlife and Parks after they shot what appeared to be a wolf on their ranch.   According to KXLO in Lewistown, game wardens came out to pick the animal up and sent pictures of it to a wolf specialist in Great Falls.  

    DENTON - One family in Denton said they called Fish Wildlife and Parks after they shot what appeared to be a wolf on their ranch.   According to KXLO in Lewistown, game wardens came out to pick the animal up and sent pictures of it to a wolf specialist in Great Falls.  

  • Wolf-like animal stumps experts

    Wolf-like animal stumps experts

    Friday, May 25 2018 12:53 PM EDT2018-05-25 16:53:34 GMT

    It may be another week before we know exactly what type of animal was killed by a rancher near Denton last week. 

    It may be another week before we know exactly what type of animal was killed by a rancher near Denton last week. 

  • VIDEO: Search continues for four people in Idaho river

    VIDEO: Search continues for four people in Idaho river

    Wednesday, May 23 2018 5:57 PM EDT2018-05-23 21:57:04 GMT

    GRANGEVILLE, IDAHO - The search continues for four people who remain missing after their car wrecked and landed upside-down in the Selway River in a remote part of Idaho. Newly released video shows the car submerged in a fast-moving river.

    GRANGEVILLE, IDAHO - The search continues for four people who remain missing after their car wrecked and landed upside-down in the Selway River in a remote part of Idaho. Newly released video shows the car submerged in a fast-moving river.

  • Person recovered from Missouri river in Great Falls

    Person recovered from Missouri river in Great Falls

    Friday, May 25 2018 10:10 PM EDT2018-05-26 02:10:32 GMT
    Saturday, May 26 2018 12:56 AM EDT2018-05-26 04:56:36 GMT

    A person was rushed to the hospital after emergency crews responded to reports of a body trapped on a floatation device on the Missouri River in Great Falls.  The call came in around 5 o'clock this Friday afternoon and within minutes multiple emergency agencies responded. Cascade County Sheriff Bob Edwards said once there, they did recovery a person, started CPR and then transported the person to Benefis. Sheriff Edwards said this a reminder of how quickly things can turn danger...

    A person was rushed to the hospital after emergency crews responded to reports of a body trapped on a floatation device on the Missouri River in Great Falls.  The call came in around 5 o'clock this Friday afternoon and within minutes multiple emergency agencies responded. Cascade County Sheriff Bob Edwards said once there, they did recovery a person, started CPR and then transported the person to Benefis. Sheriff Edwards said this a reminder of how quickly things can turn danger...

  • Montana family's Cancun vacation derailed by serious injury

    Montana family's Cancun vacation derailed by serious injury

    Tuesday, May 22 2018 3:14 PM EDT2018-05-22 19:14:37 GMT
    Tuesday, May 22 2018 3:14 PM EDT2018-05-22 19:14:37 GMT

    A family from Malta on vacation in Cancun has had their dream vacation come to a terrible conclusion after a dive off of a dock resulted in a broken spine.

    A family from Malta on vacation in Cancun has had their dream vacation come to a terrible conclusion after a dive off of a dock resulted in a broken spine.

  • NewsMore>>

  • Wolf-like animal killed near Denton

    Wolf-like animal killed near Denton

    Thursday, May 24 2018 10:54 AM EDT2018-05-24 14:54:36 GMT
    Thursday, May 24 2018 7:12 PM EDT2018-05-24 23:12:04 GMT
    Image Courtesy KXLOImage Courtesy KXLO

    DENTON - One family in Denton said they called Fish Wildlife and Parks after they shot what appeared to be a wolf on their ranch.   According to KXLO in Lewistown, game wardens came out to pick the animal up and sent pictures of it to a wolf specialist in Great Falls.  

    DENTON - One family in Denton said they called Fish Wildlife and Parks after they shot what appeared to be a wolf on their ranch.   According to KXLO in Lewistown, game wardens came out to pick the animal up and sent pictures of it to a wolf specialist in Great Falls.  

  • DEET or not to DEET

    DEET or not to DEET

    Thursday, May 24 2018 9:51 AM EDT2018-05-24 13:51:34 GMT
    Thursday, May 24 2018 9:51 AM EDT2018-05-24 13:51:34 GMT
    To DEET or not to DEET… that is the question. You might not think it matters as long as it keeps those pesky mosquitoes away, but you might want to take a closer look at that bug spray bottle before you spray it on you or your kiddo's.  One of the biggest concerns when it comes to bug spray is if the chemical N-diethyl-meta-toluamide, more commonly known as ‘DEET’, is safe to use; especially on children. The good news is that you’re 100% in the clear. ...
    To DEET or not to DEET… that is the question. You might not think it matters as long as it keeps those pesky mosquitoes away, but you might want to take a closer look at that bug spray bottle before you spray it on you or your kiddo's.  One of the biggest concerns when it comes to bug spray is if the chemical N-diethyl-meta-toluamide, more commonly known as ‘DEET’, is safe to use; especially on children. The good news is that you’re 100% in the clear. ...
  • Is social media pressuring Montanans to change their faces?

    Is social media pressuring Montanans to change their faces?

    Wednesday, May 23 2018 12:02 PM EDT2018-05-23 16:02:12 GMT

    In a time when there's pressure to always look perfect for your next selfie, we found out even Montanans are showing a growing interest in procedures to enhance their face.

    In a time when there's pressure to always look perfect for your next selfie, we found out even Montanans are showing a growing interest in procedures to enhance their face.

  • Tuesday standoff suspect involved in 2014 standoff with GFPD

    Tuesday standoff suspect involved in 2014 standoff with GFPD

    Tuesday, May 22 2018 9:07 PM EDT2018-05-23 01:07:17 GMT
    Wednesday, May 23 2018 12:02 AM EDT2018-05-23 04:02:51 GMT

    The Great Falls Police Department has apprehended a male suspect after he barricaded himself in an apartment building on the 11-hundred block of  7th Avenue South for almost four hours Tuesday. The incident occurred right outside the south entrance of Longfellow Elementary School. Neighbors on the scene told KFBB they witnessed GFPD try to pull over a vehicle, when the man driving jumped out and ran into the apartment complex. Police did tell reporters on scene that this was a ...

    The Great Falls Police Department has apprehended a male suspect after he barricaded himself in an apartment building on the 11-hundred block of  7th Avenue South for almost four hours Tuesday. The incident occurred right outside the south entrance of Longfellow Elementary School. Neighbors on the scene told KFBB they witnessed GFPD try to pull over a vehicle, when the man driving jumped out and ran into the apartment complex. Police did tell reporters on scene that this was a ...

Powered by Frankly
Copyright - All content © 2001 - 2018. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.