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For Immediate Release: Feb 10, 2000
Contact: Kirsten Stade (202) 265-7337

FOREST SERVICE COMPLAINTS IGNORED BY JUSTICE IN NEVADA

Nevada U.S. Attorney Among LeastResponsive in Nation


Washington, DC.. The U.S. Attorney in Nevada has one of the worst records in the country for ignoring requests for criminal prosecution made by the U.S. Forest Service, according to an analysis of federal records released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). During the six year period from 1992 to 1998, the U.S. Attorney in Nevada filed prosecutions in less than half of the Forest Service criminal cases handled and obtained convictions in only one quarter of the cases filed.

Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest Supervisor Gloria Flora cited lack of cooperation from the U.S. Attorney as a major motivation for her resignation this fall. "These figures support Gloria Flora's frustration," commented PEER National Field Director Eric Wingerter. "The record of the U.S. Attorney in Nevada suggests that environmental crimes committed on the Humboldt-Toiyabe will go unpunished."

According to the PEER analysis, the U.S. Attorney in Nevada:

* ranked in the bottom quarter of all U.S. Attorneys with measurable referrals in terms of willingness to prosecute criminal complaints lodged by the Forest Service;

* failed to assign priority status to any Forest Service case during the period examined; and

* turned down Forest Service cases on the basis of lack of resources despite a nearly one- third growth in staff during the six year period.

"The lack of cooperation by the U.S. Attorney in Nevada only makes a bad situation worse by demonstrating that natural resource crimes have no consequences, thus further encouraging people to break Forest Service rules," concluded Wingerter.

The PEER analysis is based upon figures compiled by Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) [http://www.trac.syr.edu; (202) 544-8722.]