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Babbitt man sentenced for snowmobile chase through Boundary Waters

A Babbitt man will spend a month in jail and three years on probation in connection with a high-speed snowmobile chase through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in 2014.

A Babbitt man will spend a month in jail and three years on probation in connection with a high-speed snowmobile chase through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in 2014.
Edward Zupancich, 27, was sentenced Thursday after being found guilty in February of fleeing an officer on a motor vehicle as well as misdemeanor charges of possessing cans in the BWCAW, operating a snowmobile in an unsafe manner, possessing a mechanical transport or mechanized equipment in the BWCAW, failure to display registration and littering.
Zupancich was sentenced to 30 days in jail for each charge except littering, for which he was fined $50. He’ll serve each of the five 30-day sentences concurrently.
He also was given three years of probation for fleeing an officer on a motor vehicle, which is a felony. As part of the probation, Zupancich is banned from the BWCAW with the only exception being community service work there with prior approval of his probation officer. Another criteria of the probation is completing 240 hours of community service, which is prefered to be done in the Boundary Waters.
According to the criminal complaint, on Jan. 11, 2014, Zupancich was snowmobiling in the Boundary Waters with Barney Lakner, 44, of Ely when they were pursued by Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officers; federal law bans snowmobiles in the BWCAW. The chase went across Basswood Lake along the Ontario border.
Lakner's trial is set for June 10; he faces a felony and six misdemeanor charges. The criminal complaint alleges that at two points during the pursuit, Lakner's snowmobile rammed the officers' snowmobiles. The complaint said that one officer eventually got close enough to try to grab Lakner's backpack in an effort to get him to stop. His snowmobile allegedly again made contact with the officer's snowmobile.
The criminal complaint also alleges that Lakner had put duct tape over his snowmobile registration so it could not be identified from a distance.
Lakner was convicted and served prison time for his role in a 2007 incident in which he was part of a group of six who illegally used a motorized boat and terrorized campers on Basswood Lake - where the 2014 snowmobile chase happened. He is out on bail.

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