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2 Men Convicted of Trespassing on Nevada Test Site

June 22, 1989|From the Associated Press

LAS VEGAS — Two men accused of trespassing onto the Nevada Test Site have been convicted in U.S. District Court here.

The conviction of John Mento and Theodore Thomas marked the first convictions in federal court for trespassing on the site 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

In the past, trespassers have been arrested by Nye County authorities, then usually released after being cited. But county authorities have said they will not prosecute trespassers at the site because of the growing number of protests at the remote desert location.

Some protests in recent years have resulted in hundreds of arrests on misdemeanor trespass charges.

It took a federal jury less than half an hour Monday afternoon to convict Mento and Thomas.

The two were arrested in a building on the test site grounds Easter weekend.

Mento and Thomas argued that they had the permission of Indian leaders to be at the building. Indian groups contend that the test site land belongs to them under old federal treaties.

The government said the men did not have the permission of the Energy Department, which operates the facility.

U.S. District Judge Philip Pro set sentencing for Sept. 5. Under federal law, trespassing is a misdemeanor carring a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a $5,000 fine.

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