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Strange court case for Burning Man drug suspects

  • Burners ride their bicycle through the streets of Burning Man near Gerlach, Nev. on Aug. 28, 2012. (AP Photo/Reno Gazette-Journal, Andy Barron)

RENO, Nev. — It wasn't as surreal as Burning Man itself, but the courtroom banter was a bit unorthodox.

After all, it's not every day a discussion about a plea deal for a pair of so-called "Burners" facing drug charges includes a defense lawyer scolding his client, or a judge playfully accusing a federal prosecutor of being a "killjoy."

Robert Louis Ruenzel II and Lindsey Ann Neverisky, both 31, were looking at five years in prison or more after they were arrested Aug. 27 at the annual counter-culture festival in the desert 120 miles north of Reno. They were in an RV stocked with marijuana, cocaine, psychedelic mushrooms, ecstasy pills and other drugs.

Daniel Bogden, the U.S. Attorney for Nevada, said federal prosecutors wanted to charge the two with felonies.

But without explaining further, Bogden said U.S. Magistrate Judge William Cobb declined to sign a felony warrant "even though the evidence established probable cause that they had committed a felony drug offense."


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