David Lesh has been denied having two criminal charges dropped for alleged illegal activity on national forest lands by a Federal judge. The former pro-skier will still face trial.
The charges are that Lesh operated a snowmobile in a closed Keystone ski area and that he used forest lands to promote his clothing brand without the required permit. The ruling judge has set a trial date for July 22-23, 2021.
Lesh’s defense attorney claims that there is no concrete proof that the snowmobile rider allegedly trespassing at Keystone Resort is, in fact, David Lesh.
“The primary evidentiary basis for Count 1 is a photo depicting an unidentified person operating a snowmobile in an area alleged to be the Keystone Ski Area. No portion of the rider’s face or body is visible in the photo. A visual inspection of the photo yields no information about the rider’s race, sex, gender or age. The government is unable to identify, with any reasonable degree of certainty, the individual depicted in that photo.”
– Attorney Eric Faddis
His attorney also claims there is no evidence that Lesh was trying to sell merchandise while at Keystone Resort and that both charges should be dropped.
The US Attorney’s Office disagrees with these claims, responding that “significant evidence exists to support the petty offense charges.”
“On April 24, 2020, the defendant uploaded several photos to his Facebook and Instagram accounts. These photos showed the defendant driving a snowmobile over a jump in the closed, restricted area of Keystone Ski Area. All of the postings were under an avatar, face photo clearly identifying the defendant. The defendant captioned his postings: ‘davidlesh — solid park sesh, no lift ticket needed.’”
– Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Hautzinger
Hautzinger also added that Lesh “essentially admitted to the Keystone incident in the Jan. 11, 2021, New Yorker article, ‘Trolling the Great Outdoors.’”
If convicted, Lesh could face up to 6-months in jail and/or a $5,000 fine on each count.
Former pro-skier David Lesh had five other criminal counts against him dropped by the US Government in February, Vail Daily reported. The counts relate to the alleged trespassing in Hanging Lake last summer.
Lesh is still restricted from entering national forest lands and is prohibited from posting any images on social media of himself or anyone else breaking the law on federal lands.
Lesh, called ‘the most hated man in the Rockies’ in a recent New Yorker article, faced six charges relating to trespassing incidents in Glenwood Canyon’s Hanging Lake and snowmobiling in a closed Keystone Ski Resort. He is also currently banned from all national forest land for an image he posted of himself defecating in the iconic Maroon Lake near Aspen, CO. His attorney claims the image is a fabrication, and a photo of Lesh defecating was photoshopped onto a stock image of the Maroon Bells backdrop for Instagram. As such, he should not have been banned from forest service land.
In the New Yorker article, Lesh claims he has a video ready to release demonstrating how he Photoshopped the infamous ‘defecating in Maroon Lake’ image and the image of him trespassing Hanging Lake. He claims both images were in response to his charge for snowmobiling on Independence Pass in 2019, for which he claims there was ‘no evidence.’ He used the alleged Photoshopped images to ‘bait them into charging him.’
“I wanted them to charge me with something. The only evidence they have is the photos I posted on Instagram, which I know are fake, because I faked them. I was pissed off about them charging me for the snowmobiling on Independence Pass with zero evidence. I realized they are quick to respond to public outcry. I wanted to bait them into charging me.”
“I want to be able to post fake things to the Internet. That’s my fucking right as an American.”
– David Lesh tells the New Yorker
Whether the image was real or not, the judge said just by posting it:
“…is clear evidence of the defendant’s contempt of the Court and the judicial system. It is evidence that he believes he can do whatever he wants to wherever he wants to, without regard for what the Court has ordered.”
In April 2020, Lesh posted images on Instagram of him riding a snowmobile in a terrain park at Keystone Resort. The resort had been closed to the public since March 15th, when the Colorado Governor ordered all ski areas closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The incident was one count of the allegations.
A further five counts were tied to Lesh’s alleged entry of Hanging Lake in Glenwood Canyon on June 10, an incident again documented on Instagram.
The Hanging Lake charges included:
- Entering an area closed for the protection of threatened, endangered, rare, unique, or vanishing plants, animals, or fish when entering the Hanging Lake National Natural Landmark Area
- Entering an area closed for the protection of special biological communities
- Entering an area closed for the protection of property
- Entering an area closed for the protection of historical, archeological, geological, or paleontological interest
- Entering a prohibited body of water
According to the filed document, each charge holds a potential penalty of not more than six months imprisonment, not more than a $5,000 fine, or both.
In June 2020, Lesh was fined $500 and ordered to perform 50 hours of public service this summer to illegally ride his snowmobile near the summit of a snowless Independence Pass near Aspen, CO, in summer 2019.
Lesh is no stranger to ‘bad publicity,’ often engaging in stunts that garner public attention. For example, in August 2019, he crash-landed his plane into Half Moon Bay off the California Coast, live streaming the plane sinking and the whole rescue operation.
- Related: VIDEO: Former Pro-Skier David Lesh Crashed His Plane into Half Moon Bay Off California on Tuesday
In July 2014, Lesh was arrested and charged with arson following a fire at the Virtika warehouse in Boulder, caused during a promotional video filming.
Lesh, a Denver, CO resident, posted pictures on Instagram in April of himself snowmobiling in a terrain park at Keystone, with the caption “solid park sesh, no lift ticket needed.”
#NEW Excuse the language, BUT moments before this video was taken, these two went down with their plane. Incredible!
No injuries, other than a few jellyfish stings.
— Amanda del Castillo (@AmandaABC7) August 21, 2019