"Trial Begins for Man Who Thwarted Oil-Gas Auction"

"SALT LAKE CITY - Hundreds of activists marched to the federal courthouse Monday to support a man who became an environmental folk hero by faking the purchase of $1.7 million of federal oil-and-gas drilling leases in an act of civil disobedience.

Tim DeChristopher, 29, has pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court to felony counts of interfering with and making false representations at a government auction.

DeChristopher's fate will be in the hands of a jury — eight men and four women — once opening statements are made in the case on Tuesday. The trial is expected to last until Friday.

The possibility of just one juror sympathetic to environmental causes could keep DeChristopher from a conviction, although a hung jury could result in him being retried.

Prosecutors have offered DeChristopher multiple plea deals over the past two years, but he rejected those, opting instead to go to trial."

CNBC had the story February 28, 2011.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011