New charges keep coming wand a hearing is scheduled Nov. 1 in federal court, but the attorney for the four men accused of walking in a thermal area of Yellowstone National Park has filed a motion to withdraw from the case.
The late change makes the already-complicated case even more complex.
“It doesn’t surprise me in a case that has so many moving parts,” attorney Thomas Fleener told the Jackson Hole Daily. “I was hopeful to represent these guys all the way through. Most of their issues are consistent, but we’ve developed a conflict and I’ve got to leave.”
Fleener, an attorney out of Laramie, has represented Justis Cooper Price-Brown, Alexey Andriyovych Lyakh, Charles Ryker Gamble and Hamish McNab Campbell Cross since federal charges were filed against them in May.
“I can’t get into it in any more detail,” Fleener said. “It’s a legal principle that makes it so I can’t represent them all anymore.”
The men are accused of filming themselves walking in restricted areas of Yellowstone and posting the photos and videos online. Three of the men are behind the Vancouver, British Columbia, entertainment and clothing brand High on Life.
The group also has a YouTube channel on which it encourages fans to subscribe. The participants have apologized for their missteps on social media.
Until a judge recently quashed warrants, the four were subject to arrest if they re-entered the United States.
“They look forward to coming down and taking responsibility for their actions at Yellowstone,” Fleener said.
Fleener has previously said he doesn’t believe the men deserve jail time. He stands by that statement.
“We’re seeking fairness,” he said. “This is a step in the right direction. We’re closer to getting the case resolved.”
Since the incident in May, several new charges from national parks in Colorado, Nevada and Utah have been filed against the men. Charges include flying a drone in a national park, using commercial photography in a national park without permission and operating a bicycle in restricted areas in a national park.
The four defendants are expected to appear in federal court Nov. 1 at the Yellowstone Justice Center in Mammoth.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if one of them changes their plea to guilty and receives fines to be done with it,” Fleener said, “but I believe the main Yellowstone case will continue on to another day with new lawyers representing each of the Yellowstone four.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Francis Leland Pico will serve as prosecutor in the case.
The men have requested court-appointed counsel.