Judge orders pipeline shooter to pay $17 million in restitution

Daniel Lewis is serving 16-year prison sentence

Posted: Wednesday, April 07, 2004

FAIRBANKS - The man convicted of shooting the trans-Alaska oil pipeline and causing a 285,000-gallon crude oil spill has been ordered to pay $17 million in restitution.

Daniel Lewis, 40, who is serving a 16-year prison sentence, was ordered to pay for the October 2001 shooting of the pipeline about 85 miles north of Fairbanks near Livengood.

District Court Judge Jane Kauvar ordered the restitution Monday nearly 10 months after sentencing Lewis for his convictions of five state crimes related to the shooting.

Kauvar and Lewis' public defender, Jennifer Hite, were equally pessimistic Monday about Alyeska's chances of recovering the full restitution amount - $17,371,386.63. Most of that amount stems from cleanup costs.

Lewis has earned only about $16,000 in wages since 1990, Hite said.

Lewis did not attend the hearing but testified by phone from prison.

He said he has not received an Alaska Permanent Fund dividend, the annual check given to Alaskans from an account begun with oil wealth, since the 1980s. His only other income is a check for about $300 he receives twice a year from Doyon Ltd., the Alaska Native regional corporation for Interior Alaska created by the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. Lewis signs that money over to his two children, he said.

After listening to his testimony, Kauvar ordered that Lewis pay back at least $1,000 a year in the five years he's scheduled to be on probation following his prison term.

If his probation officer determines that Lewis is making enough to pay more, the restitution schedule could be increased, Kauvar said.

Kauvar said $1,000 a year "doesn't go very far toward the $17 million, but if in fact he wins the lottery or comes into some other income or receives an inheritance, then they can address having him pay more of it."

During a December 2002 trial in state court, Lewis' lawyers argued that Lewis' older brother, Randy, shot the pipeline while the siblings were drinking and riding all-terrain vehicles near the family's Livengood homestead.

The jury disagreed. Jurors convicted Daniel Lewis of oil pollution and criminal mischief for shooting the pipeline with a .338-caliber hunting rifle, assault for pointing the gun at his brother, felony driving under the influence for driving a four-wheeler while drunk, and weapons misconduct for handling a gun while under the influence.

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