U.S. Attorney Files Suit Against 'White Hope' Mine Owners
The Federal government is suing the owners of a mine near Lincoln, where members of the "Oath Keepers" group have gathered.
U.S. Attorney Michael Cotter filed the civil suit in federal court in Helena Tuesday. The complaint claims George Kornec and Philip Nappo, owners of the White Hope Mine, have blocked access to public lands, by illegally opening a road, cutting down trees, and building a garage on the site. The two miners are disputing the Forest Service’s claim that they no longer have a valid right to mine the land for gold. They’ve drawn members of the "Oath Keepers" group to Lincoln. The Oath Keepers is a constitutionalist group that vows to keep the federal government from committing unconstitutional acts such as seizing weapons or land owned by private citizens. Many of its members are veterans.
The suit asks the court to stop the mine’s owners and their supporters from blocking access to the mine site by Forest Service employees and the general public, as well as forcing them to remove the unauthorized building unless the two sides come to an agreement that allows them to resume mining.
The U.S. Attorneys office declined to comment on a pending matter. The Oath Keepers spokeswoman has not responded to a request for comment, and Kornec and Nappo have unlisted telephones.