A U.S. Bureau of Land Management computer was apparently used to impersonate a former agency employee and disparage two Oregon ranchers recently sentenced to prison for arson.
The incident occurred after the Capital Press posted an online article about the five-year prison terms received by Dwight Lincoln Hammond, 73, and his son, Steven Dwight Hammond, 46, for fires set on BLM property near Diamond, Ore., in 2001 and 2006.
A person who identified as Greg Allum posted three comments on the article, calling the ranchers “clowns” who endangered firefighters and other people in the area while burning valuable rangeland.
Greg Allum, a retired BLM heavy equipment operator, soon called Capital Press to complain that he had not made those comments and request that they be taken down from the website. Capital Press has since removed the comments.
A search of the Internet Protocol address associated with the comments revealed it is owned by the BLM’s office in Denver, Colo.
Allum, who continues to build livestock watering systems in Eastern Oregon, said he is friends with the Hammonds and was alerted to the comments by neighbors who know he wouldn’t have written them.
“I feel bad for them. They lost a lot and they’re going to lose more,” Allum said of the ranchers.
He said employees of the BLM in the area have long had a contentious relationship with the Hammonds.
“They’re not terrorists. There’s this hatred in the BLM for them, and I don’t get it,” Allum said.
Allum said he wants any BLM employees involved in the incident punished not because they impersonated him, but because they wasted government resources during work hours.