BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — After a one–day bench trial, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jennifer L. Thurston found Jason E. Murchison, 37, of Huntington Beach, guilty today of one count of operating an unpermitted business on National Forest land, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
According to evidence presented at trial, Murchison operated an unpermitted snowboard-instructing service on Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, within the Inyo National Forest. In February 2020, an undercover operation revealed that Murchison was the principal operator of Learn to Snowboard and advertised paid lessons on a website www.learntosnowboardbb.com. Neither Learn to Snowboard nor Murchison had a special use authorization from the U.S. Forest Service to operate on Forest Service lands.
“The USDA Forest Service is entrusted with sustaining the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests to meet the needs of present and future generations,” said Don Hoang, Special Agent in Charge, Forest Service – Law Enforcement and Investigations, Pacific Southwest Region. “Unpermitted activity on National Forest System lands, however, negatively impacts our shared natural resources and authorized permittees. Forest Service Law Enforcement investigates and prosecutes unauthorized use like in this case to ensure the sustainability of National Forest System land.”
This case was the product of an investigation by the U.S. Forest Service and the Newport Beach Police Department. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Philip N. Tankovich Assistant and U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Spivak prosecuted the case.
The charge is a class B misdemeanor, and immediately after trial, Judge Thurston sentenced Murchison to two years of probation and a fine of $500. A restitution hearing is scheduled for July 21.
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