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Flag waving, raccoon hat wearing man sent to jail for Old Faithful stunt


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WEST YELLOWSTONE, Montana — A man who charged toward Old Faithful in a raccoon skin hat while waving an American flag is now going to jail.

United States prosecutors say the incident happened on July 7, 2020, when Aaron E. Merritt, 37, of Madison, Maine, pulled the stunt and was cited by park rangers.

But Merritt did not show up to his July 23, 2020 court hearing and so a federal judge issued a warrant for his arrest, according to a Yellowstone National Park news release. Almost a year later, Merrit was arrested on June 5 in Maine.

He showed up at his arraignment in West Yellowstone this week and pleaded guilty to trespassing on the Old Faithful thermal area.

United States Magistrate Judge Mark L. Carman sentenced Merritt at the Yellowstone Justice Center to spend 15 days behind bars with credit for four days already served.

Merrit was also ordered to pay $240 in fees and fines. He is banned from coming back to Yellowstone for the next four years while he is on probation.