Trial Date Set for Alaska Man's Controversial Park Service Arrest
A federal magistrate has rejected a request to dismiss the charges against a 70-year-old Central man who was arrested by National Park Service rangers on the Yukon River in September.
FAIRBANKS - A federal magistrate has rejected a request to dismiss the charges against a 70-year-old Central man who was arrested by National Park Service rangers on the Yukon River in September.
Fairbanks attorney Bill Satterberg said federal magistrate Scott Oravec contacted attorneys on both sides Saturday to tell them he rejected a motion to dismiss the charges against Jim Wilde. The judge re-scheduled the trial for April 5.
Wilde's trial had been scheduled to begin today in federal court.
The official decision regarding Satterberg's motion to dismiss the case is expected today. Satterberg broke the news at a fundraiser for Wilde on Saturday at Los Amigos Tex/Mex Steakhouse, and it was confirmed Monday by the federal online court records database.
Wilde was arrested Sept. 16 after refusing to allow rangers to board his boat in the Yukon River during what the Park Service said was a routine safety check. An altercation ensued and rangers handcuffed Wilde on the riverbank before transporting him to Fairbanks. He spent three days at Fairbanks Correctional Center before pleading not guilty.
Satterberg has called the arrest the result of "badge-heavy park rangers" who pointed a shotgun at Wilde and "roughed him up."
Wilde has attracted the support of the state government.
The state contends the Park Service does not have legal authority to stop people traveling on navigable state waterways in Alaska, based on the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980.
The Park Service, meanwhile, claims it has jurisdiction on state waterways that run through federal lands, based on amendments made to federal regulations in 1996.
Following Wilde's arrest, the state filed a friend-of-the-court brief on Wilde's behalf, asking the court to rule that the Park Service does not have jurisdiction on state waterways.
The fundraiser for Wilde on Saturday at Los Amigos raised more than $6,000 for his legal fees, according to organizer Craig Compeau.
Contact staff writer Tim Mowry at 459-7587.