Accused pipeline shooter sentenced in unrelated case

Posted: Friday, August 09, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- The man convicted of shooting a hole in the trans-Alaska oil pipeline has been sentenced for an unrelated conviction stemming from a break in at a Fairbanks U-Haul business last September.

Daniel Lewis was sentenced Thursday to 3 1/2 years in prison in state Superior Court in Fairbanks. In addition to the break in, Lewis had been convicted of stealing a safe from the building and driving off with a truck.

Lewis, 38, is scheduled to be tried for the pipeline incident in September, and faces as much as 22 years in prison if convicted. He also faces a sentence of as much as 10 years for his federal conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm. That sentencing is scheduled for November.

Police charged Lewis and Robert Bush, also 38, with the theft of the U-Haul after Lewis was arrested in connection with the pipeline shooting.

Bush was sentenced to two years in prison Thursday for his role in the crime. Lewis' DNA sample matched blood found in the 2001 GMC truck, which was found crashed in a ditch near 24 Mile Elliott Highway. He was convicted of second-degree burglary, first-degree vehicle theft and third-degree theft. Bush was convicted of first-degree vehicle theft.

The convictions stemmed from Sept. 13, 2001, when police discovered someone threw a tire through a window of the U-Haul building on College Road, stole a safe containing about $200 and stole a truck. During a five-day trial, Lewis took the stand and admitted to getting drunk and breaking the window, but said he was later picked up by Bush in the truck.

In sentencing Lewis and Bush Thursday, Judge Niesje Steinkruger said she considered it fortunate no one was killed in the incident.

''It's incredible they didn't kill or maim someone as they were driving incredibly fast and incredibly drunk and continued to drink,'' she said.

Steinkruger added the jail sentence would likely be useless in prompting Lewis to change his behavior. Lewis' legal record includes convictions for 16 misdemeanors and eight felonies. ''I don't think any one of us in this room know quite what to do,'' Steinkruger said.

Lewis faces several felony charges based on allegations he shot a hole in the trans-Alaska oil pipeline near Livengood with a .338-caliber rifle on Oct. 4. More than 285,000 gallons of oil spilled from the hole -- the second largest spill in Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. history. The cleanup cost more than $7 million.



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