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Sebastopol activist losing pieces of his ranch

  • John Jenkel stands in front of a barn on his property in Graton, California on Tuesday, April 12, 2011. Sonoma County will be seizing 2.5 acres of land from him on April 21st. (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)

Sebastopol horseman and political activist John Jenkel has ticked off a few people in his day.

Well, more than a few.

That happens when you stage war protests at the funeral of a fallen soldier. Or when you rant at public meetings, accusing people from the president to local elected officials of conspiring to cause the Sept. 11 attacks.

So it's no surprise that the eccentric 72-year-old — who dumped a large manure pile and a casket near the entrance to his Gravenstein Highway ranch — is at odds with his neighbor, winemaker Paul Hobbs.

About three years ago, Hobbs won a $350,000 judgment against Jenkel in a dispute over a stand of century-old trees that were destroyed, allegedly by unchecked well water running from Jenkel's 16 acres.

Jenkel refused to pay and the court ordered the sheriff to seize two pieces of his land and sell them to Hobbs at separate auctions last year and in 2009. A third sale is set for Thursday.

Although the seizures appear to be a clear-cut civil matter, the man who refers to himself in court papers as "'da 9-11 Bounty Hunter," insists he's the target of a government plot to silence him. He's calling on Gov. Jerry Brown to intervene.

"It's a land-grab to take over my entire farm," said Jenkel as he walked the grassy pasture that is next on the auction block. "Paul Hobbs is taking advantage of the fact that Congress wants to destroy me. I'm the only guy holding them accountable for what they're doing."

Hobbs, who did not respond to recent requests for comment, previously said Jenkel brought the situation on himself. Jenkel was encroaching on his property and became angry when he put up a fence, the winery owner said.

Jenkel, who's been deemed a "vexatious litigant" by the courts for his numerous lawsuits filed in Sonoma County, flooded the trees as a kind of pay back, Hobbs said.


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