bwca wrote:Barney Lakner, one of the six Ely residents charged with making terroristic threats and firing guns to scare campers in the BWCA, is contesting the charges against him.
He was to have a hearing today, but have now pushed it back again to March 24th to hear his contest.
According to the Duluth NewsTribune, "Lakner could challenge constitutional issues and other evidence against him."
Drunken spree of BWCA terror draws tears, fourth guilty plea
By LARRY OAKES, Star Tribune
June 2, 2008
TWO HARBORS, MINN. -- Facing a possible prison term for terrorizing as many as 80 campers last August in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, a 20-year-old Ely man tearfully admitted his guilt in court Monday, saying the drunken shooting spree he and five friends went on was "stupid, ignorant and thoughtless."
"It was the worst night of my life, and I can't take it back," said Jay Andrew Olson, who drove one of the two motorboats from which the group shot off guns and fireworks and yelled profanity at campers from Basswood Lake on the night of Aug. 7.
"I scared a lot of people, and I may have ruined the rest of my life," continued Olson, a student at Bemidji State University. His parents, Don and Nancy Olson, watched from a Lake County courtroom bench, his mother dabbing her eyes.
Olson became the fourth of the six defendants to accept a plea bargain, but unlike the first three, he could go to prison for a minimum three-year term.
Olson's attorney, David Keegan, said in court that at Olson's sentencing, scheduled for July 7, he'll ask District Judge Kenneth Sandvik to give probation, with any jail time served locally.
County Attorney Russ Conrow said he'll ask the judge to stick to the prison sentence recommended by state guidelines. Conrow has said he considers Olson, organizer of the outing, to be one of those most responsible out of the six accused.
Conrow said he'll also ask for a harsh sentence for Barney James Lakner, who at 37 (he's now 38) was the oldest member of the group and who brought along the fireworks, an assault rifle and a pistol. Lakner is scheduled to appear June 16 for a pretrial hearing. If no plea deal is reached, his trial will probably be in September, Conrow said.
The rampage attracted widespread attention because of evidence that it was fueled by lingering resentment in Ely of the environmental activism that led to creation of the BWCA.
As they drank beer and fired guns, the five men and a 16-year-old boy, all from Ely, yelled "get the [expletive] off our [expletive] property,'' and "go home, tree huggers," witnesses reported.
Members of one family told authorities they hid in the woods while the intruders tramped through their campsite, threatening to kill the father and rape his daughter.
Olson pleaded guilty Monday to felony charges of aiding terroristic threats and aiding harassment with a firearm. He also pleaded guilty to two counts of aiding criminal damage to property -- gross misdemeanors stemming from vandalism to a federal water-flow "gauging station."
Finally, he pleaded guilty to reckless discharge of a firearm -- a misdemeanor -- and misdemeanor possession of stolen property, stemming from the theft of some campers' fishing equipment, car keys and other gear.
In exchange for Olson's plea, 16 other charges were dismissed.
Lakner and Olson had previous run-ins with authorities over illegal motor use in the BWCA. In 2004, Lakner paid a $275 fine for driving a snowmobile in the wilderness area, and Olson and another defendant in the shooting spree, Casey Fenske, 19, paid $225 fines for driving ATVs in the BWCA in May.
In January, Fenske admitted firing his pistol 40 to 50 times into the water and damaging the door of the gauging station. Sandvik sentenced him last month to serve nine months at the Northeast Regional Corrections Center and to pay restitution.
Zachary Barton, 20, who also fired a gun that night, was sentenced to 20 days in the Lake County jail.
Travis Erzar, 20, deemed one of the least involved, got no jail time, but like the others agreed to stay out of the BWCA during the three years each will be on probation and to pay restitution.
The case against the juvenile, now 17, is pending.
Conrow said his office gave the victims advance notice of each of the plea bargains.
Larry Oakes • 1-218-727-7344
BWCA terror defendant changes plea
By Scott Stowell
One of the men who had originally pled not guilty to charges of terrorizing campers in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area last August has reached a plea agreement with the Lake County Attorney’s office.
Jay Olson, 20, entered not guilty pleas in January, but according to Lake County Attorney Russ Conrow, pled guilty to several charges at a pre-trial hearing last Monday.
As part of his plea agreement, Olson will receive amended counts of felony for terroristic threats and harassment with a firearm. He will also be charged with criminal damage to property for two occurrences of destruction to a federal water gauging station in the BWCA. One of the instances occurred in July prior to the August terrorizing incident. In addition, he must make restitution for all damages.
Other counts in the plea agreement include reckless discharge of a firearm and possession of stolen property for fishing equipment he took from a campsite.
Olson will be required to provide truthful testimony against the other defendants in state and federal court. He is also banned from entering the Boundary Waters for the term of his sentence which may include confinement, parole or conditional release after confinement.
Prosecuting attorney Conrow said he will seek a three-year minimum mandatory confinement with the Department of Corrections.
Olson’s attorney David Keegan said he will ask the judge for a probationary sentence similar to what the other defendants were guaranteed by the state attorney’s office.
Sentencing is scheduled for July 7 at Lake County District Court in Two Harbors before Judge Kenneth Sandvik.
Three other defendants in the incident, Travis Erzar, Casey Fenske and Zachary Barton, have already reached plea agreements and been sentenced.
A final adult defendant, Barney Lakner, 38, was to have had his pre-trial hearing last Monday, but it was extended until June 16. Conrow said Lakner’s trial date could be scheduled for the end of September at the earliest if the case goes to trial.
A sixth defendant will appear in juvenile court.
Fifth man in BWCAW shooting spree pleads guilty
Duluth News Tribune
Published Tuesday, July 15, 2008
The last of five Ely adults charged in last summer’s Basswood Lake shooting spree pleaded guilty this afternoon in Lake County District Court.
Barney James Lakner, 37, avoided a trial by pleading to reduced charges on five different counts.
Lakner pleaded guilty to felony aiding and abetting terroristic threats, felony aiding and abetting harassment with a firearm, felony aiding and abetting assault with a firearm by a minor, misdemeanor aiding and abetting theft, and misdemeanor reckless discharge of a firearm.
Judge Kenneth Sandvik accepted the plea. State statutes call for a mandatory minimum sentence of at least three years in a state prison for the felony firearms charge, although exceptions can be made.
Lakner’s sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 11.
The plea bargain stems from a night of drinking, boating, shooting and fireworks on Basswood Lake in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
Two Ely men get 3 years in prison for BWCA terror
By LARRY OAKES, Star Tribune
August 11, 2008
TWO HARBORS, MINN. - Concluding that two Ely men who terrorized wilderness campers caused "horrible events that went on for hours" a judge rejected pleas from their families for leniency Monday and sentenced each to three years in prison.
"You brought high-powered guns on an outing -- I have trouble visualizing it as a boat ride," District Judge Kenneth Sandvik told Barney James Lakner, 38, as he ordered the prison term and banned Lakner from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA) for five years.
Sandvik issued an identical sentence to Jay Andrew Olson, 20, in connection with the nighttime shooting rampage on Aug. 7, 2007, in which the pair and four friends entered the BWCA illegally in motorboats, shot guns and fireworks and terrified as many as 80 campers in the Basswood Lake area.
Given the chance to address the court, Jim Sanders, supervisor of the Superior National Forest, which manages the BWCA, said the "heinous acts of violence" hurt the wilderness area's reputation among its 200,000 annual visitors and "will be part of the Boundary Waters timeline forever."
The case drew widespread attention because of evidence that it was fueled by lingering resentment in Ely of the environmental activism that led to the creation of the BWCA.
Sanders asked Sandvik to ban the pair from the BWCA for life. But Sandvik said five years appeared to be the maximum time the law would give him authority over the defendants.
Sandvik also heard from a family that endured the threats. "I wonder when I'll ever feel comfortable in my own skin again," Marina Koller, 27, told Sandvik.
Koller, a teacher, described how she, her 64-year-old father and 11-year-old brother had to run into the woods and hide as the gun-toting men entered their campsite, swearing loudly, telling them to "get off our land" and making fun of their "freeze-dried food."
Then, she said, they crudely described how they would rape all three of them and kill her father, Emmerich Koller, with whom she traveled from Illinois for Monday's court hearing.
The sentences given to Lakner and Olson were the longest issued so far to any of the defendants -- five adults and a 16-year-old -- who came to be called the "Ely Six."
The adults all entered into plea bargains, each tailored to what Lake County Attorney Russ Conrow called their varying degrees of involvement.
Only the case involving the teenager, now 17, remains unresolved, with a pretrial hearing set for Sept. 8.
Conrow said Lakner deserved the prison term recommended by sentencing guidelines for his crimes because he was old enough to be a father to the others and had a responsibility to prevent or stop the melee. He noted that Lakner brought the two most deadly guns -- an AK-47 assault rifle and a Glock semi-automatic pistol -- as well as some of the beer the group drank that night.
He said Olson deserved prison because he called the others and organized the outing and participated more than some of the others.
Both Lakner and Olson apologized and asked for leniency. Olson said he wanted to go to college in the fall, and Lakner's mother begged the judge not to take him and his income as a delivery truck driver away from his wife and two sons.
Sandvik told the courtroom that while both men clearly had supportive family and friends -- something that might make them amenable to probation -- the nature of their crimes wouldn't allow him to depart from the sentencing guidelines, despite the better deals given to their co-defendants.
Ringleader of group that terrorized Boundary Waters campers in 2007 arrested again
By: John Myers, Duluth News Tribune, 1/17/14
The ringleader of a drunken, gun-shooting, fireworks-lighting trip on Basswood Lake in 2007 has been arrested again, this time accused of leading officers on a high speed chase within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
Barney Lakner, 46, of Ely has been charged with a felony and six misdemeanors following his arrest on Jan. 11 while snowmobiling in the BWCAW, where snowmobiles are banned by federal law.
Lakner was arrested with Edward Zupancich, 26, of Babbitt. Both face possible felony charges for fleeing an officer on a motor vehicle as well as misdemeanor charges for possessing cans and a mechanical device in the wilderness, as well as littering, failure to display registration, and operating a snowmobile in a careless manner.
Both were formally charged Wednesday in State District Court in Two Harbors. Lakner is still being held in the Lake County Jail. Zupancich is out on $10,000 bail. Zupancich’s is scheduled to next appear in court on Feb. 4.
According to the criminal complaint, three Minnesota state conservation officers were involved in the case, ironically also on Basswood Lake where the 2007 incident occurred.
At one point Lakner’s snowmobile apparently rammed on the officers’ snowmobiles. The officers said they were traveling as fast as 80 mph during the pursuit.
It’s at least the second time Lakner has been arrested for snowmobiling in the federal wilderness. He was arrested with four other men on Crooked Lake in 2004.
Lakner was the leader of a group of six males — five adults and one juvenile — who motor boated illegally into Basswood Lake in the BWCAW on Aug. 7, 2007, where they drank beer, fired semi-automatic firearms randomly into the night, terrorized campers and fired large, professional-size fireworks, as well as damaged a federal water level gauging station. They also threatened to rape and torture campers on the lake, some of whom said later that they feared for their lives.
Marina Koller of suburban Chicago said she had to seek counseling after that night when the three campers in her group ran from their tent in the dark and hid deep in the woods praying the men would not find them.
The men yelled obscenities, fired their guns and even entered their campsite and rummaged through their tent, Koller noted in 2008 court testimony in Two Harbors.
“They talked about killing my father and sodomizing him and my brother,” Koller said at the time. “I thought I was going to die out there. I'm still haunted by it... I want the nightmares to go away.'
In July, 2008, Lakner avoided a trial on 22 felony and misdemeanor counts related to the terror incident by pleading to five charges, including three felonies. He was sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of three years in a state prison.
The case drew national attention as an example of the anti-government foment still harbored by some Ely-area residents after federal wilderness regulations were tightened in 1978. Many Ely-area residents condemned the 2007 incident and said they hoped the guilty pleas and sentences given to all six participants would be the end to such illegal behavior.
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