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Children’s Pool shared-use advocate gets probation for threatening e-mails

A shared-use activist at La Jolla’s Children’s Pool who pled guilty recently to sending threatening e-mails to seal activists, was sentenced to five years’ probation, and six months of GPS system monitoring by a U.S. District Court judge.

Kent Trego, 54, could have been sentenced to a much stricter sentence by federal Judge Roger Benitez, but the judge apparently took a number of factors into consideration before rendering his decision, including the fact that this was Trego’s first offense.

“In the sentencing guidelines, which are advisory and a starting place for what would be an appropriate sentence, the maximum punishment was 20 years in prison,” Trego’s attorney, Mark Adams, said. “But due to the facts of this case, they (court) came out with a range of 10 to 16 months (possible prison time). The judge elected to sidestep those guidelines and put Trego on probation, acknowledging that Kent had already served four-plus months in custody.”

Adams believes Trego’s admission of wrongdoing in sending the threatening e-mails, as well as his expressed regret for the action he took, weighed heavily in the judge’s decision. Said Adams: “He immediately admitted responsibility, and expressed remorse, apologizing in writing to the Animal Protection people. He was very upset about what he had done. I think the judge was moved by that.”

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Adams said the judge ordered Trego to get anger-management counseling, as well as sentencing him to 180 days under house arrest with GPS monitoring. “He’ll have a curfew placed on him,” he said. “At least it will get him back into the community, get him counseling and allow him to find an maintain employment, beginning to reintegrate into the community.”

Trego was a frequent letter writer on shared use of Children’s Pool in the La Jolla Light and other local press. He pled guilty April 17 in San Diego federal court to threatening a volunteer of the Animal Protection and Rescue League (APRL). He pled guilty to a charge of threatening to retaliate against a federal witness.

Trego admitted in court that, on Sept. 22, 2007, he accompanied two scuba divers into the beach at Children’s Pool. The divers caused approximately 50 harbor seals to flush into the water when they entered the pool, which was witnessed by an APRL volunteer who videotaped the scene. After the divers entered the water the APRL volunteer recorded the license number of their vehicle.

Trego at that point had a verbal exchange with the APRL voluntter who later reported the entire transaction to federal law enforcement agents of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

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After an investigation, the two divers were identified and ticketed for misdemeanor violations of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). On Jan. 11, 2008, using a public computer at La Jolla’s Riford Library, Trego composed and sent threatening e-mails to the APRL suggesting revenge would be exacted on the organization for the role in played in having the scuba divers cited. The APRL reported the threatening transmission to federal authorities who began an investigation.

Adams said he and his client are satisfied with the result of Trego’s sentencing. “I think the judge made the right call,” Adams said. “After carefully considering everything, he made the right decision. This is the right result.”