Judge Blocks Bid To Increase Utah ATV Protester Restitution

Oct 22, 2019, 7:51 AM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 5:00 pm
FILE: Utah State Representative Phil Lyman, R-Blanding talks with KSL about the restitution order a...
FILE: Utah State Representative Phil Lyman, R-Blanding talks with KSL about the restitution order against him.

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A federal judge has rejected an increase in restitution payments by a former county commissioner for an illegal ATV protest ride in a Utah canyon, court records said.

U.S. District Judge David Nuffer blocked the federal government’s attempt to force Phil Lyman to increase his monthly payment from $100 to $500, The Deseret News reported Monday.

The government wrongly assumed Lyman retained his commission seat after his election to the Utah House and that his $1,023 monthly legislative pay was in addition to his county salary, Nuffer ruled.

A jury found Lyman guilty in 2015 of misdemeanor illegal use of ATVs and conspiracy for organizing a 2014 protest ride through a canyon closed to vehicles due to the presence of Native American cliff dwellings. Lyman said he was challenging federal management of Western public lands.

Lyman makes $25,000 less annually since he gave up his commission seat and began serving in the Legislature, he said. The accountant from Blanding did not reveal how much he makes from his private business.

Nuffer ordered Lyman to provide his 2017, 2018 and 2019 tax returns to the court and the U.S. Attorney’s Office no later than May.

Prosecutors said Lyman’s financial circumstances changed after his election to the House and he had a “heightened moral obligation” to pay. Lyman says the U.S. Attorney’s Office is harassing him due to political motives.

Lyman does not appear intent on avoiding restitution payments and did not argue the payment should be decreased, Nuffer’s ruling said.

“Instead, Mr. Lyman’s opposition focuses more on grievances against the federal government and the news media in a futile attempt to have his restitution overturned in its entirety,” the judge wrote. “That request will not be entertained.”

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Judge Blocks Bid To Increase Utah ATV Protester Restitution