On October 30th, David Lesh, the founder of Virtika Outerwear and owner of an Instagram account with nearly 85 thousand followers, was charged with six federal misdemeanors after he posted evidence of his crimes online to his thousands of followers. At the time of writing, all evidence is still public and available for anyone to view, Lesh hasn’t deleted anything and seems to enjoy the attention he’s received.
Lesh appeared in court on Friday to face charges from two separate incidents. In April, he trespassed on Keystone Resort in Colorado while it was closed due to COVID-19 regulations to go snowmobiling. In June, he went swimming at Hanging Lake National Natural Landmark Area, a closed location to the public to protect endangered plants and animals. Photographs of both of these incidents were posted to Instagram by Lesh and are still up. This evidence was used against him in court.
About a month before the hearing on Friday, Lesh took a plea deal agreeing to obey all rules while on U.S. Forest Service lands or risk a fine and possible arrest. He was also banned from entering any of these areas but would be allowed to return if he agreed to the terms. However, only 19 days after being given this generous agreement by U.S. District Judge Gordon Gallager, Lesh posted a photo to Instagram of himself defecating into Marron lake.
Maroon Lake is part of the watershed that provides most of the drinking water to Aspen, Colorado. It’s one of the most important and treasured sites in all of the National Forest System and It’s absolutely illegal under any circumstance to enter this body of water whether it be walking, swimming, or boating. This incident is still under investigation as it would be a serious crime in addition to the others discussed so far, and would be a serious violation of his plea deal. Investigators can’t divulge much information yet but they have reason to believe the image might be a fake and that Lesh is just trying to upset the public for more publicity, and waste the time of the justice system.
The case is still ongoing because of this new evidence and possible violation but as of October 30th, Lesh has been charged with six federal misdemeanors and barred from entering national forest land. In addition, Judge Gallager forbade Lesh from posting any content on social media of himself or others violating state or federal laws on any federal lands.
The main concern behind this interesting and rarely seen punishment is that the clear and dangerous influence this man has. Davis Lesh is the founder and owner of a company that still operates globally and his social media followers are in the tens of thousands. Lesh might not have damaged this country’s ecosystems too much on his own, but if his many followers think it’s acceptable to destroy protected natural systems they’re much more likely to do it themselves.