Utah man pleads not guilty in drilling lease case | AspenTimes.com

Utah man pleads not guilty in drilling lease case

Paul Foy
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

SALT LAKE CITY ” With his supporters packing a federal court room, a college student has pleaded not guilty to charges he interfered with an oil-and-gas drilling lease auction last year.

U.S. Magistrate David Nuffer on Tuesday set a five-day trial for Tim DeChristopher starting July 6.

DeChristopher, 27, was released on the condition that he doesn’t travel the country.

Defense attorneys say it’s unlikely DeChristopher would accept a plea bargain and they expect to fight the charges at trial.

At a Dec. 19 federal auction, DeChristopher grabbed a bidder’s paddle, drove up prices and won 22,000 acres of oil-and-gas parcels near Utah’s national parks. He has acknowledged he didn’t have the intention or ability to pay for his winning bids, which totaled $1.7 million.

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