Pace, 24, of Canton, was sentenced July 9 by United States Magistrate Judge Dennis Lee Howell during an appearance in U.S. District Court in Asheville. Before his sentencing hearing, Pace paid restitution for his share of the damage to Max Patch.
Convicted of a petty offense, Pace may remain free for the two weeks from his sentencing date until he “self-reports” the week of July 22 to the marshals office in Asheville, said a spokesman from the U.S. Marshals Service in the Western District of North Carolina in Charlotte. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Richard Edwards.
“This sentence sends a message to vandals that damaging our public lands will not be tolerated,” said United States Attorney Anne Tompkins.
Pace was with a group of men who illegally drove vehicles in the Max Patch area in January 2013, causing more than $5,000 worth of damage to the scenic area. Pace tore down the entrance gate and fence, thereby enabling the others to drive their vehicles into the protected area where vehicles are prohibited.
Max Patch sits next to the Tennessee state line in the Harmon Den area and is intersected by the Appalachian Trail. At 4,629 feet, the bald offers 360-degree vistas of Mount Mitchell to the east and the Great Smoky Mountains to the southwest. An abundance of ferns and grasses blanket the area.