The Shadow of Claude Dallas

by | Jul 3, 2019

The Shadow of Claude Dallas

by | Jul 3, 2019

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Shadow of Claude Dallas

 Senseless, lawless violence — government reduced to its essence: BLM employee C.J. Ross commits a felonious assault on Nevada property rights activist Ken Greenwell, in Palomino Valley, Nevada, November 13, 2001. Greenwell had staged a peaceful protest of the BLM’s theft of cattle belonging to rancher Ben Colvin. Ross, acting on behalf of the rustlers, took offense. Note the contrast between Ross’s snarling, feral visage and the incredulous composure displayed by Greenwell, and ask yourself: Which of these two displays the civilized face of freedom?
When they arrived at the cattle camp in Nevada’s Paradise Valley, the three shabbily dressed men claimed that they were interested in a job. Their timing was a bit odd; it was November, a little late in the year for a ranch to take on new hires. As it happens, the visitors weren’t looking for work as buckaroos; they were looking for the wiry, brown-haired ranch hand named Claude.
“You’re Dallas, aren’t you?” one of the strangers, a man named Frank Meale, asked the hand. When the young man replied that he was, Meale– an undercover FBI agent — and his two comrades — FBI agent George Schwinn and Elko County Deputy Sheriff Noel McElhany – seized him, cuffed him, and stuffed him into the worn-out pickup truck that had brought them to the bunkhouse. 
A few months earlier, Claude Dallas had been secretly indicted by a federal grand jury, triggering a nation-wide manhunt by the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service. Dallas, an Ohio native, had drifted west to Nevada, where he found work as a cowboy. Polite, disciplined, and literate, Dallas distinguished himself by his appetite for honest work and his general disdain for the dissipations available in local saloons. He was also disinclined to talk about his background – a trait he shared with many others who chose this itinerant lifestyle.


“Claude is true Old West,” commented rodeo champion Cortland Nielsen. “A lot of guys try it, but the first time they have to shave with cold water they change their mind. Claude keeps going after it and after it. He should’ve been alive in the old days – a scout, the guy you send a day or two ahead to tell you how things are. He’d be perfect.” A photographer from National Geographic agreed with that assessment, which is how Dallas ended up being featured in a story entitled “The American Cowboy in Life and Legend” – a clue not even the FBI could miss. 
The officers who arrested Dallas said he was polite and friendly. His captors didn’t reciprocate. Dallas was flown across the country, frog-marched through airports in handcuffs and a belly chain. On his arrival in Mt. Gilead, Ohio, he was thrown into a drunk tank, where he was singled out for abuse by sheriff’s deputies.  
Dallas was regarded as an exceptionally depraved offender: He was a “draft dodger,” having refused induction in 1968. This isn’t because he was afraid to fight, or unable to – a fact well understood by the predatory bureaucrats who tracked him down. 
“Most likely he’ll try to run, but he may try to shoot it out,” Meale told the other two members of his snatch team just before the abduction. “We’ll have to shut him right down.” 
That “arrest” took place in November 1973 – nearly a year after the Vietnam War officially ended. The indictment against Dallas had been issued the previous July – a month after the draft was discontinued. Yet the Feds insisted on stalking Dallas, humiliating him, abusing him, and trying to put him in a cage. After the case against him was dismissed because of procedural mistakes by the Mt. Gilead Draft Board, one of his kidnappers promised that the persecution wouldn’t end.
“I’m gonna get you, Dallas – even if it’s just for tax evasion,” the FBI agent hissed in his ear as the cowboy was released. 
When Dallas returned to Paradise Valley, his fellow ranch hands noticed an ominous change in his disposition. 
“They wouldn’t have took me like this if they hadn’t got the drop on me,” he fumed to friends in the bunkhouse. Dallas “was publicly heard to swear that no one would ever outdraw him again – no one,” recounted Jack Olsen in his book Give a Boy a Gun. “One of his closest friends asked how he felt about the draft and the Vietnam War. He said that he would fight for his country if he were asked in a nice way, but `nobody’s gonna order me around.’” 
Roughly seven years later, two Idaho fish and game wardens – Bill Pogue, a former Winnemucca, Nevada police chief, and Conley Elms – tracked down Dallas’s campsite about three miles on the Idaho side of the Nevada border in Owyhee County. Dallas, who had spent several years working intermittently as a ranch hand and trapper, had developed a reputation among fish and game officials – and Pogue most likely considered himself just the man to rein in the “renegade.” 
Pogue, like other self-important martinets who see themselves as indispensable cogs in the “mighty machine of the State,” was an authoritarian prig who expected deference from Mundanes. Dallas, according to Jim Stevens, an eyewitness to the January 5, 1981 confrontation, wasn’t unduly impressed by the uniformed bureaucrat. Dallas, Stevens later recalled, possessed “eyes that showed no fright.” This obviously wouldn’t turn out well for someone.
Ever since he had arrived in the West, Dallas had frequently displayed an insouciant disregard for poaching laws. He had a handful of bobcat hides in his camp. Although Dallas had a valid Idaho trapper’s license, bobcat season wouldn’t open until January 9 – four days later. Pogue told Dallas that he was going to be cited for possessing illegal hides and venison taken out of season. Then, according to Stevens, Pogue said he would have to arrest Dallas.
Those words would prove to be a death warrant.
 “Are you going to take me in?” Dallas asked Pogue. At the time, Dallas and the two game wardens stood at points of a triangle roughly five to six feet apart. At some point, Pogue made a threatening gesture to his pistol. Stevens, who was busy elsewhere in the camp, didn’t see what happened next – but he heard the unmistakable report of a handgun, and whirled around to see Dallas in a shooter’s crouch, and a bloodstain spreading across Pogue’s chest. A fraction of a second later, Dallas shot Elms as well.
The wardens almost certainly died instantly. Nevertheless, Dallas delivered a coup de grace to each of them with a .22 rifle.
“Why, Claude? Why?” exclaimed Stevens in horror.
“I swore I’d never be arrested again,” replied Dallas. “They were going to handcuff me.”
Stevens would later testify that the wardens did not threaten Dallas’s life “in any way.” This isn’t true: Every demand made by a government official contains the implicit threat of lethal violence against those who refuse to comply. This was particularly true of the armed strangers who threatened to kidnap Dallas at gunpoint – something not mandated by what they called the law, but made necessary by Bill Pogue’s punitive nature. 
“Nobody has the right to come into my camp and violate my rights,” Dallas insisted as Stevens absorbed the bloody aftermath of the encounter. “In my mind it’s justifiable homicide.”
Many people in Idaho and throughout the Intermountain West agreed with that evaluation during the lengthy manhunt and high-profile trial that followed the killings. The arrest was illegitimate, which meant that Dallas – under the Bad Elk precedent – had the right to use lethal force in self-defense. He didn’t ambush the wardens; he was outnumbered by armed, truculent men, and outdrew them. 
It is true that Dallas had been poaching hides and game. Consider this: Seven years earlier, the Feds had seized him out of season, as it were, by arresting him after Congress had rescinded the hunting license it had granted the draft-nappers. There’s no moral case to be made for the proposition that poaching game is a crime, but poaching human beings is sound and defensible public policy. 
Claude Dallas was not a saint, but he only became a killer when he was cornered by gun-wielding government employees who most likely would have found some way to validate the FBI agent’s threat: The Federal Government would find some way to “get him,” no matter how trivial the violation. 
The lethal encounter between Dallas and the Idaho game wardens “fundamentally changed the relationship between the West and those charged with preserving its resources,” opined the Twin Falls Times-News in an editorial clotted with collectivist assumptions (derived from the notion that the earth is the State’s and the fullness thereof). “Before Jan. 5, 1981, we had wilderness rangers; ever since we’ve had wilderness policemen. The conservation officer who checks your fishing license nowadays is more likely than not to be armed.” 
Of course, this isn’t a novelty, given that the wardens who threatened to kidnap Dallas were carrying weapons and prepared to use them. The most important difference is that most wilderness “policemen” have adopted the swaggering, imperious disposition of William Pogue. 
Consider the case of Chico, California resident Jeff Newman, 53, a life-long avid skier who operates a painting business. As a sideline, Newman “tunes” skis and teaches others how to perform this kind of maintenance.
With the exception of a decade he spent in the employment of the Forest Service (more appropriately called the Sylvan Socialist agency, or SS), Newman has made an honest living. In early 2010, Newman and some friends he had met in the employ of the SS visited Colby Meadows in the Lassen National Forest, one of their favorite skiing destinations.
Years earlier, Newman and his friends built a bulletin board — with the permission of the SS — on which could be posted maps and emergency information. During their recent visit, one of Newman’s friends, Larry Chrisman, posted an advertisement for Newman’s ski tuning service on the otherwise vacant bulletin board.
 Neither of them thought more of the matter until a few days later, when an armed, bellicose SS troglodyte named Paul Zohovetz materialized on Newman’s doorstep in full battle array. Newman initially thought Zohovetz was a customer. Quite the opposite was the case: He had traveled more than fifty miles to threaten Newman with a citation for posting a commercial flier without the specific permission of the SS.
As is often the case in such situations, the foul-tempered official busybody began to harass Newman about matters that had nothing to do with the flier.
“I’m not sure what this is all about,” Newman complained.
“You’re under arrest,” snarled Zohovetz by way of reply.
Newman commanded the armed intruder to leave his property. Zohovetz, already guilty of criminal trespass, compounded the crime by threatening to attack Newman with a deadly weapon by pointing his Taser at the man’s face and neck.
That’s right: Even the Regime’s forest rangers are now equipped with portable electro-shock torture devices.
“He had this look in his eyes like he wanted to beat the crap out of me,” Newman recalled. A diabetic who suffers from permanent nervous system damage, Newman was understandably concerned that a Taser attack would kill him. So as any rational person would, he fled into his house. His deranged assailant, badly overestimating his physical prowess, tried to kick down the door, succeeding only in leaving a muddy footprint.
Newman called Chrisman to his home as a witness. Zohovetz, having failed in his effort to bully the mild-mannered Newman by himself, called for backup from the local police department. After his friend arrived, Newman emerged from the house, only to be handcuffed. As a result of not taking insulin yet that day, he went into convulsions.
Satisfied that he’d made whatever point he sought to make, Zohovetz released Newman and told him that he was only issuing a “warning” regarding the flier. He also issued a citation for “threatening an officer,” a charge that carries a six month jail sentence and a $5,000 fine.
The appropriately named SS spokesman John Heil insisted that Zohovetz behaved appropriately by driving 50 miles to issue a “warning” and then needlessly escalating a trivial matter into a life-threatening confrontation. 
When the case went to trial in March 2011, U.S. District Court Magistrate Craig M. Kellison ruled that Zohovetz “had no right to remain on Newman’s property once he had been ordered to leave.” He also cited a Supreme Court precedent acknowledging that the “freedom of individuals verbally to oppose or challenge police action without thereby risking arrest is one of the principal characteristics by which we distinguish a free nation from a police state.” 
It’s all but certain that those in the leadership echelons of SS are aware of the outcome of that case – and it’s just as likely that they have made a conscious decision to ignore it. This would explain a nearly fatal incident involving SS officer Shawn Tripp that took place in Montana’s Little Belt Mountains last November 26. 
 Bill and Tammie McCutcheon, residents of Roundup, Montana, were on a hunting trip with their four children – two teenagers and 18-month-old twins. Tammie, along with her 12-year-old daughter and the twins, had pulled over to the side of the road while Bill and the couple’s teenage son gone into the nearby forest. 
 Tripp, who was patrolling on a four-wheeler, approached the truck from behind. Tammie told the Billings Gazette that she initially thought Tripp, who was wearing a jacket with no insignia identifying himself as a federal officer, was another hunter. When she asked Tripp who he was, the SS officer “refused to identify himself and demanded that she get out of the truck.” 
Things became immediately and dramatically worse, recounts the Gazette. Tripp began “questioning her about whether they had driven past the `road closed’ sign…. Tammie McCutcheon said she was worried about her twins alone in the truck but was trying to respond to Tripp’s questions. The encounter escalated, Tammie McCutcheon said, when Tripp tried to remove a hunting tag from the antlers of a deer in the back of the couple’s truck. Tammie McCutcheon said she believed Tripp had no authority to remove the tag, and she grabbed it from his hand, bumping against him as she reached for the tag.”
Owing to the State supremacist indoctrination he had received, Tripp perceived that incidental contact as the high and grievous crime – nay, sin – of “assaulting a federal official.” Accordingly, he grabbed the terrified mother, threw her up against the truck, and roughly cuffed her hands behind her back. He then shoved her face-down on the open tailgate and began to paw the shrieking woman beneath her clothes. 
Tripp might consider this a “search”; by any rational definition, it was a sexual assault by an armed stranger who had spit out several angry demands but refused to identify himself (not that doing so would have justified his actions).
“I thought I was going to get raped,” Tammie later recalled. The noise attracted the attention of her husband Bill, who had reached the top of a small nearby hill – and looked down to see, from about 100 yards away, a man on top of his wife as she screamed for help.
Hurrying down the hill, Bill ordered the assailant to leave his wife alone. As Tripp later admitted on the record, the properly infuriated husband never pointed his rifle at him – even though he would have been well within his legal and moral rights to use lethal force to stop the assault. Tripp, however, drew his pistol and pointed it at Bill, ordering him to drop his rifle. At one point, according to Tammi, the “unstable” and “muttering” SS enforcer pointed his sidearm at the couple’s 12-year-old daughter. 
A call for assistance issued by Tripp was answered by Wheatland County Sheriff Jim Rosenberg, who was hunting nearby. The Sheriff, who should have arrested Tripp for aggravated armed assault and sexual battery, chose instead to arrest Bill, who was held in jail for five days before being released. Significantly, in an interview with an investigator hired by the McCutcheons’ attorney, Sheriff Rosenberg was told by Tripp that Bill never pointed the rifle at him.
Nonetheless, Bill and Tammie were indicted in federal court on January 26 on charges that they “forcefully assaulted, resisted, opposed, impeded, intimidated, and interfered” with Tripp. Bill McCutcheon faces 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine; Tammie – whose “crime” consisted of protecting herself from a sexual assault, could be sentenced to 8 years in prison and a $100,000 fine.
 During a dispute over the SS’s actions in closing down a road in Nevada’s Elko County a decade ago, the Jarbidge Shovel Brigade, a local citizen’s group ran a radio ad describing the agency’s personnel as “armed and dangerous.” 
“The Forest Service has a new policy of issuing citations for the following offense: Operating any vehicle off road in a manner which damages or unreasonably disturbs the land, wildlife or vegetative resources,” observed the radio spot. “If apprehended by Forest Service personnel, consider them armed and dangerous and cooperate with them to the fullest. Then contact the Jarbidge Shovel Brigade for assistance.” 
That prompted a petulant complaint from the SS that the ads were “inflammatory” and tended to promote “ill will” toward the agency. Oh, dearie dear – we can’t have that, can we?
Like Jeff Newman – who was once employed by the agency — Bill and Tammie McCutcheon can testify of the indisputable truth of the characterization offered by the Shovel Brigade. Their experiences also underscore the wisdom of having the means to defend one’s self and one’s family in the event one encounters a predatory Fed in the wilderness – or, as Newman’s case demonstrates, in one’s own home.  
For killing the two wardens who tried to kidnap him, Claude Dallas eventually served 22 years for voluntary manslaughter. The foreman of the jury that convicted Dallas later said that he would have been acquitted of all charges if he hadn’t delivered what was most likely a gratuitous coup de grace. The Regime remembers those details. We should, as well. 
Obiter Dicta

Owing to travel, unanticipated difficulties on the home front (Korrin is doing much better now; my earnest thanks to everyone who has expressed their concerns on her behalf), and my responsibilities over at Republic magazine, posting here has been sporadic as of late. I appreciate your patience, and your continued material support. I’m generally posting at least one short piece — sometimes two or more — each day at Please drop by and sign up for your free digital subscription!

Some of you have asked when Pro Libertate Radio will return. I’m still in search of an appropriate platform; I’ll let you know as soon as the right arrangements have been made. 

Dum spiro, pugno!

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About Will Grigg

Will Grigg (1963–2017), the former Managing Editor of The Libertarian Institute, was an independent, award-winning investigative journalist and author. He authored six books, most recently his posthumous work, No Quarter: The Ravings of William Norman Grigg.

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