David Lesh fined $10,000 for environmentally insensitive social media posts promoting his company – CBS Denver

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (CBS4) — Colorado entrepreneur David Lesh gained notoriety by showing himself bad in beautiful outdoor settings. These actions caused him to appear in a very different environment – the inside of a courtroom.

A U.S. District Court judge on Wednesday sentenced Lesh to a $10,000 fine, 160 hours of community service and one year of probation.

Judge Gordon Gallagher refused to order a prison sentence despite calls he received from the public to put Lesh behind bars.

“I’m reluctant to incarcerate someone for a minor offense of this nature,” Gallagher said during Wednesday’s hearing, according to a report from the Aspen Times. “That wouldn’t seem like a fair sentence to me. I believe there has to be a deterrent.

David Lesh in a 2014 booking photo. (credit: Boulder County Sheriff)

At the end of a one-day trial last October, Lesh was found guilty of running a snowmobile off a route on federal land and using federal land to benefit his clothing business. outdoors, Virtika. Lesh, 36, of Denver, was convicted of ignoring barriers and signs and riding his snowmobile on the Keystone Resort terrain park in April 2020. The resort was then closed due to the pandemic .

Judge rules David Lesh illegally used state land to promote outdoor apparel business

“Solid park sesh, no lift ticket needed,” Lesh wrote in an Instagram post, using a colloquial phrase for “session.” The message included an obscenity directed at the station.

David Lesh jumps on his snowmobile at a Keystone Resort terrain park while the park was closed due to the pandemic in April 2020. CBS4 uncovered an obscenity. (credit: Instagram)

Because the resort is located on federal land and the judge found that Lesh’s incident at the resort was part of an ongoing social media campaign to promote his business, a permit from the U.S. Forest Service was required to perform park stunts legally. Lesh had not acquired a license.

Lesh posted other controversial photos, one of himself on a log in a prohibited section of Hanging Lake near Glenwood Springs and another defecating in Maroon Lake with the fall foliage of the Maroon Bells in the background. plan. Both locations are iconic places in Colorado, and the photos have angered many Colorado residents.

(credit: Virtika/Facebook)

(credit: Instagram)

However, in an interview with The New Yorker a year ago, Lesh said he had fortunately gotten an increase in support for his business from people living out of state.

“The more hate I got, the more people supported me, from all over the world,” Lesh said. “These people didn’t give a damn that I was walking on a log at Hanging Lake. It was an opportunity to reach a whole new group of people, while really solidifying the customer base we already had.

RELATED David Lesh pleads not guilty to unlawful activities at Hanging Lake and Keystone Ski Area

Federal prosecutors eventually dropped five charges relating to the Hanging Lake and Maroon Lake photos. Lesh claimed he doctored the photos, largely in an effort to thumb his nose at the federal government, and prosecutors could not verify that the photos were genuine.

“I wanted them to accuse me of something,” Lesh told The New Yorker. “The only proof they have is the photos I posted on Instagram, which I know are fake because I faked them. I was pissed that they charged me for the snowmobile on Independence Pass without any evidence. I realized they react quickly to public protest. I wanted to trick them into charging me.

The Forest Service first noticed Lesh in July 2019 when he rode a snowmobile through a no-go zone on Independence Pass. He was fined $500 and served 50 hours of community service in the case.

(credit: Karin Teague)

Lesh also told The New Yorker that his company’s sales increased 30% after the Hanging Lake photo was posted.

“I want to be able to post fake things on the internet,” Lesh said in the New Yorker interview. “It’s my fucking right as an American.”

Hanging Lake, Maroon Lake, and Independence Pass are all within the White River National Forest boundary. Lesh had been banned from national forest lands in the last prosecutions. Judge Gallagher did not extend that ban. But the fines — $5,000 per count — are the maximum for the two minor offenses.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Hautzinger, the prosecutor in the case, also received letters from the public demanding that Lesh be “locked up for as long as possible,” according to the Aspen Times. But, for him too the judge, the prison sentence was beyond reasonable.

“I think there’s been a pattern, contempt is maybe too strong a word, but definitely contempt for authority, for government, for the Forest Service and for court orders,” Hautzinger said. “I think there must be punitive sanctions for that.”

Colorado business owner David Lesh is once again at the center of controversy

“I don’t think he’s a bad person. I think he made some bad decisions.

“It’s not the crime of the century. These are petty crimes,” Lesh’s attorney, Barrett Weisz, told the Aspen Times. Lesh endured a lot of hatred from the public because of this case.

The judge suspended the sentence for two weeks while Lesh and his attorney decide to appeal the sentence.

CBS4 messages left with Lesh and Weisz on Monday were not returned.

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