Benjamin Gilmore sentenced for arson linked to Occupy: See the film that claims he's innocent

Categories: Crime

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Big photos, videos below.
Yesterday, Benjamin Gilmore, a former Occupy Fort Collins protester who makes his living as a beekeeper, was sentenced to eight years behind bars for a 2011 fire in Old Town that caused $10 million in damage.

At the sentencing hearing, Gilmore repeatedly denied wrongdoing, and he's got many supporters behind him -- including filmmaker Lawrence Johnston, whose documentary, Burning the Beekeeper: The Benjamin David Gilmore Story, lays out the case for innocence. See the film in its entirety and get more details below.

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A shot of the 2011 fire from "Burning the Beekeeper."
As reported by the Fort Collins Coloradoan, the four-story Penny Flats building in Old Town -- mere steps away from the Occupy Fort Collins encampment at the time -- went up in flames on October 24, 2011.

Afterward, a Rolex with Gilmore's name inscribed on the back was found in the wreckage of the fire, reportedly in two pieces on separate floors. The watch became an important piece of evidence against Gilmore, who ran a local business called Copoco's Honey. He says the watch had been stolen.

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An image of a Rolex like the one found in the fire, from the documentary.
In the end, Gilmore was charged in the crime, but he has consistently maintained that he didn't set the blaze. Instead, he and his supporters point to Gerardo "Clutter" Salazar, a man who'd allegedly said he'd thrown a Molotov cocktail into the building, thus starting the conflagration.

The contradictory claims led to a mistrial in the first attempt to convict Gilmore, in September 2012. But prosecutors went back to court, and because Salazar had died in the interim, the defense team's efforts were severely handicapped.

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Gilmore as seen in "Burning the Beekeeper."
In October, a new jury convicted Gilmore, and yesterday, he was sentenced to eight years for the crime. Moreover, his request to remain free while appealing was denied. As reported by 7News, he was crying when he was led away in handcuffs after giving his wife and nine-month-old son one last hug.

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Tim Masters in 2010.
In the meantime, courthouse protesters affiliated with the Justice for Ben Facebook page made it clear they stand behind Gilmore. They liken his case to that of Tim Masters, who was convicted of murder but later cleared due to DNA evidence. Masters served nearly a decade in prison; in 2010, he was awarded $4.1 million in compensation from the Larimer County judicial district and $5.9 million from the City of Fort Collins.

Look below to see Burning the Beekeeper, a collaboration between director Johnston and narrator Stacy Lynne, described as a "passionate truth-seeker." That's followed by a 7News video in which Gilmore defends his innocence. By the way, his reference to prosecutors twisting his words in the latter refers to a tape played in court in which Gilmore can be heard saying, "The intention was never to hurt anybody."

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

More from our Follow That Story archive circa June 2010: "Tim Masters's settlement from Fort Collins over improper murder conviction: $5.9 million."


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21 comments
TonyTtony
TonyTtony

Isn't it STUNNING that you never hear about ANY of this sort of thing from the 90% liberal media; who GUARD against any publication of denigrating ANYTHING except for conservatives?????? And isn't it AMAZING that the ONLY "news" "broken" about the tea party movement, or any of their rallies... were very well-coordinated attempts to SMEAR them with made up stories which were ALL proven to be LIES!!!!! Hugo Chavez ain't got nothin' on our radical left who's now ruling America. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Sam Adams, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Davey Crockett, Patrick Henry, Edmund Burke, Daniel Webster, Nathaniel Niles, Marquise de Lafayette, and so many more of our founders and freedom fighters are spinning in their graves and SOBBING!

TonyTtony
TonyTtony

This POS radical liberal terrorist will be either an educator or a legislator in the future - just like bill ayres, bernadine dohrn, barack hussein obama, van jones, valerie jarret, hillary clinton, and I could go on naming marxist scum who want to fundamentally transform our system of government (by any means necessary) for days on end. When are the left of center, touchy-feely, IDIOT LEMMINGS going to wake up to the FACT that today's "progressives" are yesterdays communists, and they not only "don't ever let a good crisis go to waste", but if there isn't one they'll create one!!!???

ranthony80
ranthony80

However, the DA in court on Thursday played a tape in which Gilmore said, "The intention was never to hurt anybody."    Funny how this didn't make it into the story.

ranthony80
ranthony80

I love that he is Occupy Wallstreet with a Rollex. LOL.. Idiot.. 


Nathaniel C Marshall
Nathaniel C Marshall

westword: intelligent educated readers need not aspply! If youre into pedophilia, marijuana and other degenerate beliefs feel free to read this nasty rag!

Nathaniel C Marshall
Nathaniel C Marshall

only stupid left wing terrorist scum like occupy and westword readers believe this terrorist is innocent!

Chris Estus
Chris Estus

Don't all convicts claim they are innocent?

Bryan Clark
Bryan Clark

so thats all they have a watch with his name on it?

Aaron McMurray
Aaron McMurray

Because the legal system is corrupted at its core.....

Denice Simon-Coleman
Denice Simon-Coleman

IF he is innocent, why was his watch found at the scene of the crime? Why were his hands burned as well?

Dan Radom
Dan Radom

nope. not for one second. I was a juror on his first trial. no way he is innocent

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

     Larimer County ain't no joke, yo.




ranthony80
ranthony80

He should have been charged with domestic Terrorism.

ranthony80
ranthony80

The prisons are filled with men saying they are innocent.  He is just another criminal that doesn't want to pay for his crime.   Occupy is a terrorist group. 


DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Why did O.J. have a cut on his finger matching the cut on the bloody glove found at the scene of the murders?


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