The man who bulldozed public lands while illegally mining for gravel near an old ghost town in Saguache County — and who then ducked authorities and reportedly hinted at armed conflict — was on Monday sentenced to 13 months in federal prison.
Robert Timothy Allen of Gunnison is to also spend three years on supervised release, plus pay $20,300 in restitution.
Allen was in August convicted of depredation of federal property, two years after he was indicted for damaging public lands between 2013 and 2014.
“The defendant damaged precious resources that will take money and time to repair,” U.S. Attorney Jason R. Dunn said, in a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office announcing Allen’s sentence.
“We appreciate the hard work of everyone involved in ensuring we live up to the public’s trust in our management of the public’s land,” Bureau of Land Management Colorado State Director Jamie Connell said.
Allen illegally mined for gravel near the ghost town of Vulcan and ignored repeated written orders from the BLM to stop, court records say. He dug up about 3 acres of land with a bulldozer, causing more than $20,000 in damage.
After an indictment issued in 2016, Allen removed himself to a “compound” and made concerning statements instead of answering the summons initially issued, court documents also say.
Multiple attempts to get him to answer the summons and assurances he would not be arrested if he did accept the summons failed, the government’s sentencing statement says, so an arrest warrant was issued.
Agents determined Allen rarely left his property after the federal arrest warrant was issued, but they developed information about the vehicle he used and obtained a warrant to place a tracking device on it.
Informants told agents Allen possibly had firearms hidden in his home and had barricaded his door.
After placing the tracking device on the vehicle, agents located it at a shopping area in Gunnison in late 2018, found Allen and told him he was under arrest.
“The defendant took a ‘bladed’ stance as if he would assault one of the agents. He then struggled with the deputy marshal who was attempting to take him into custody,” according to the sentencing statement.
“As this occurred, the defendant’s father-in-law attempted to strangle (BLM) Special Agent (Robert) Shilaikis,” and also attacked the deputy U.S. marshal, the document alleges. The document does not say whether Allen’s father-in-law was ultimately charged.
The government argued for a sentence of between 15 to 21 months in prison, based on the amount of damage caused, Allen’s violation of orders from the BLM and state mining board, and his “obstructive post-indictment conduct.”
Allen “willfully failed to appear for court and made repeated threats to use deadly force to prevent his apprehension and arrest … hindering and delaying the prosecution of this matter,” Assistant US Attorney Jeremy Chaffin wrote in the sentencing statement.
The document notes Allen had no prior criminal history, but also says he was well aware of the requirements for mining in Colorado, yet staked a claim citing the United States Mining Law of 1872.
Allen argued the law gave him rights of exclusive possession, which the government was attempting to take from him, according to case information.
He was convicted in less than an hour after the jury received his case on Aug. 14.
Allen was ordered to be held in custody after his conviction, with the federal court finding in its detention order that he “essentially took himself off the grid, removed himself to a backcountry compound, put up chains to stop vehicles and secreted firearms in various places to protect himself from any law enforcement who may come to arrest him.”
Allen on Sept. 17 moved for a new trial. The motions says a relative of his spoke with a juror after the verdict, who reportedly said the jury was given new instructions that caused jurors to ignore Allen’s writings that were contained in a defense exhibit.
The government in response said Allen was relying “on several layers of hearsay” and his motion would be more properly considered as one seeking permission to contact jurors.
Allen’s motion was withdrawn, court records show.
U.S. District Judge Marcia Krieger emphasized during sentencing that Allen’s felony conviction means he can no longer legally possess firearms, the USAO’s news release says.
Chaffin in the sentencing statement also took note of firearms. Allen showed flagrant disregard for the law by ignoring orders to stop, offers to respond to the summons and by “repeated and explicit threats to use deadly force,” including by saying if officers came for his guns he would “give them the ammo first,” Chaffin wrote.
“Other important factors are deterrence and respect for the law. And the defendant has demonstrated that he will not comply with any law, regulation or order that he disagrees with. … a period of incarceration is necessary.”