Jonathan “Lloyd” Boover, the Gentilly nature lover whose 12-day protest against construction of a new City Park golf course ended when he fell from his perch in a cypress tree on March 24, pleaded guilty Wednesday to criminal trespassing and resisting arrest.
Under a plea deal, Municipal Court Judge Sean Early handed Boover, 32, a 30-day suspended sentence and ordered him to do 100 hours of community service.
He will serve that sentence with a “nature-based charity” that has not yet been identified, said Boover’s attorney, Michael Kennedy.
The protest Boover and some allies staged against the planned Bayou Oaks Golf Course ended for him with a trip to Interim LSU Hospital and then briefly to Central Lockup.
He said he suffered a broken nose and a severely sprained ankle from his fall, which he said was prompted by generator fumes and hunger after authorities kept supporters and well-wishers at a distance from his 30-foot-high spot.
Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies who had stood watch also engineered a rap music marathon, Boover said, in what he took as a campaign of torment.
After his fall, Boover hoisted himself back up into the cypress to avoid arrest but then asked Deputy Aaron Williams for medical help, according to a Sheriff’s Office memo.
The memo said Boover fell when his makeshift hammock overturned as he waved to a crowd of well-wishers.
Boover said last month that he has no plans to return to his tree protest, which was prompted by what he and supporters claim was a poorly vetted golf course plan.
Critics called the planned course a financial boondoggle — an allegation park officials vehemently dismissed.
“I figure the point was made,” Boover said last month.
Kennedy said the plea deal was worked out with city attorneys despite an initial insistence by park officials that Boover pay some $20,000 in restitution for a round-the-clock security detail and electricity for the lights that were kept on him during his protest.
“All those things they had chosen to do that were largely not necessary,” Kennedy said.
Boover did not immediately return a phone message Wednesday about his plea.
“He understood that it was our best course of action,” Kennedy said, “and the fact we were able to make his sentence be community service for something nature-based — so he can further the message he was trying to get across by sitting in the tree — made things easier.”
That message, Kennedy said, was “simply that nature should be natural and we need more green space, left to grow as nature would.”
John Hopper, the park’s chief development officer, noted that one of Boover’s protest allies, Ian Bowers, chose to leave his own tree when offered a chance to avoid arrest.
Hopper said he wasn’t involved in any discussions about restitution from Boover and couldn’t comment on it.
“We gave him the opportunity to leave, even though he had broken the law: no harm, no foul, and we wouldn’t press charges. His fellow tree-sitter took that deal. He didn’t. You break the law, there’s consequences,” Hopper said. “I think it does send a message: You can’t just break the law and hope nothing will happen.”
Construction continues on the new golf course, even as a group called the City Park for Everyone Coalition goes forward with a lawsuit against the New Orleans City Park Improvement Association and the Federal Emergency Management Agency in federal court.
The suit, filed in March, alleges among other things that FEMA incorrectly deemed that the new golf course would have “no significant impact” on the environment.
The association, a state agency that manages and operates the 1,300-acre park, is pressing to have the lawsuit dismissed.
Construction of the new course and a clubhouse is slated for completion in 2017.
Follow John Simerman on Twitter, @johnsimerman.