Oregon's chief federal judge Wednesday re-sentenced a pair of cattle ranchers to five years in prison for setting two wildfires that burned across across 140 acres of federally managed rangeland in southeastern Oregon.
Judge Ann Aiken gave Dwight L. Hammond, 73, and his son Steven D. Hammond, 46, until Jan. 4 to self-surrender to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.
The two served previous prison terms for the arsons after their 2012 convictions under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act. The law spelled out mandatory minimum sentences of five years for the Hammonds.
U.S. District Judge Michael R. Hogan agreed with the Hammonds' lawyers that the mandatory minimum wasn't constitutional. He sentenced Dwight Hammond to three months behind bars and Steven Hammond to one year and one day.
Government lawyers appealed the sentence, arguing that the mandatory minimum was constitutional and that the Hammonds deserved the five year prison terms because they put lives at risk in Harney County. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, ordering that they be re-sentenced.
"Fires intentionally and illegally set on public lands, even those in a remote area, threaten property and residents and endanger firefighters called to battle the blaze," Acting U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams said in a news release after Wednesday's sentencing.