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Park runner loses fight over parking during government shutdown

By 69 News & Associated Press, (follow: @69news), news@wfmz.com
Published On: May 07 2014 03:22:04 PM CDT
Updated On: May 07 2014 05:30:01 PM CDT
Valley Forge Park closed sign - shutdown

AP

PHILADELPHIA -

A runner ticketed for parking at Valley Forge National Historical Park during the government shutdown has lost his day in court.

John Bell was convicted Wednesday of parking his car in an area of the park that was closed as a result of the government shutdown.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacob Hart found Bell illegally entered the park's Varnum's Picnic Area on Oct. 6, 2013.

Bell has said he did not go around any barriers when he parked in a remote lot, however, prosecutors presented evidence in court indicating that Bell had to drive over grass or on a bike path in order to get around that barricades and closure signs that were in place.

Bell subsequently approached the National Park Service rangers who ticketed his car that day and admitted he knew the park was closed, according to sworn testimony from Ranger Michael Valora.

Bell, 54, of Chadds Ford, did not testify during the one-day hearing.

Bell's lawyer, Jeremy Ibrahim, said his client will appeal the judge's ruling.

Bell's $100 ticket prompted supporters to hold a Patriot Run last fall on the public roads that cut through the park in Montgomery County.