Former “Ely Six” ringleader faces new charges for BWCA violation
Marshall Helmberger

LAKE COUNTY— Ely resident Barney Lakner, age 46, has been charged with a felony count and six misdemeanors following his arrest on Saturday, Jan. 11 while snowmobiling in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Twenty-six year-old Edward Zupancich, of Babbitt, who was with Lakner at the time, faces similar charges in a Lake County court.

Lakner was the convicted ringleader of the so-called Ely Six, a group of young men who terrorized canoeists on Aug. 7, 2007. Lakner was sentenced to three years in prison as a result of that incident, which drew national attention.

Whether Lakner faces additional prison time remains to be seen. Both he and Zupancich face a felony count for fleeing an officer in a motor vehicle. Lakner faces misdemeanor charges for possessing cans and a mechanical device in the wilderness, as well as littering, failure to display registration, and operating a snowmobile in a careless manner.

If convicted for fleeing a peace officer, the two men could be subject to up to three years in prison and/or up to a $5,000 fine. Both men were arrested as a result of the incident. Both men were held following an initial hearing on Jan. 14. Zupancich is currently out on $10,000 bail. His next court appearance is set for Feb. 3, in Two Harbors.

No information was available at press time about Lakner’s next appearance.

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At 30k/yr. for prison, being forced to work to support themselves under house arrest makes more sense. 2000 hours of community service as a greeter to the BWCA would be a fitting punishment. Of course they must be nice to the tourists. For every complaint received for rudeness they should spend a self-paid weekend in jail.

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