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Man sentenced for wetlands draining

U.S. Attorney Drew H. Wrigley announced this afternoon that a Lawton, N.D., man has been sentenced on two counts of illegally draining wetlands.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Alice R. Senechal sentenced Alvin Peterson, 78, on Tuesday.

A bench trial was held on July 14 and 15, 2008, in U.S. District Court in Grand Forks. Peterson was found guilty of the offenses on Nov. 11, 2008.

Senechal sentenced Peterson to a $10,000 fine, five years of probation, $20 special assessment and restoration of the protected wetlands.

The incidents occurred on July 5, 2007, when Peterson hired a contractor to

construct ditches which illegally drained the wetlands. Peterson had farmed the land for decades and knew where the wetlands were located.

Peterson was previously convicted of draining certain wetlands in 2004. Peterson was sentenced to probation, and restoration of the injured wetlands was a condition of probation in his previous conviction for draining wetlands. Peterson did not comply with the restoration conditions and the court issued an order authorizing U.S. Fish & Wildlife

Service to restore the wetlands and Peterson was to pay the costs of restoration. The restoration work was completed in the fall of 2006. Some of the wetlands drained in the July 2007 incident included wetlands restored in 2006.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Cameron Hayden prosecuted the case.