State Rep. Phil Lyman pays off his $86K federal court bill, ending long-running battle with prosecutors

(Rick Bowmer | AP file photo ) Rep. Phil Lyman, R-Blanding, shown on the House floor in 2019, has paid off $86,000 he owed in fines and restitution for leading a protest ride in a protected canyon.

Rep. Phil Lyman, R-Blanding, has paid off in one lump sum his entire remaining $86,000 court bill that had resulted from leading a protest ride through a protected canyon.

The payment ends a battle with prosecutors who said his allowed payment of $100 a month was too low.

Lyman had risked jail again recently by refusing orders to turn over his tax returns to prosecutors, who said they wanted them to evaluate if his ordered payments were too low. Lyman told the court he worried they would be used for “political and ideological purposes.”

However last month, Lyman’s lawyer, state Sen. Dan McCay, persuaded Utah District Judge David Nuffer to delay actions on the case because Lyman was hoping to pay off the entire remainder of his bill. Court documents show he did that, and Nuffer has vacated further hearings about whether Lyman’s tax records would need to be produced.

An order filed on Tuesday by Nuffer shows that Lyman wrote a check for $86,306 to cover restitution plus a $1,000 fine.

The lawmaker led a 2014 protest of about 50 ATV riders down Recapture Canyon near Blanding, which the Bureau of Land Management closed to motorized traffic. A federal court convicted Lyman of a misdemeanor in 2015 and ordered him to pay $95,955.61 in damages. He also spent 10 days in jail.

Lyman, a certified public accountant, had been making $100 payments each month. In October 2019, the court ordered him to turn over tax returns from 2017 to 2019 by May 1, 2020, to determine his financial situation. That deadline came and went, as well as an extension, without the documents being turned over.

U.S. attorneys then asked that the court compel Lyman to appear and explain why he should not be held in contempt.

Lyman filed a response that mostly complained about past mistreatment by the court and alleging backroom ties between judges and environmentalists. He called his past charges a “farce,” adding that he nevertheless “consistently paid my ordered restitution” even though he sees it as “nothing more than payment of extortion.”

“You may choose to see (and I am certain that you will represent) my arguments as merely a rant,” Lyman wrote. “That is to be expected in this cancel culture. But I am not in contempt of our great country. I love the United States. I love the Constitution. And I, like you and every officer of the Court, has sworn an oath to uphold it. I am not in contempt of the Law.”

Lyman did not immediately respond to a phone call seeking comment on Tuesday.