The Smallest Minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities. - Ayn Rand
"When dealing with Government, the citizen acts at his peril."
There's no way one can live his life today and avoid dealing with the government.
And there are so many conflicting rules, laws, and regulations that acting in accord with one, or any, will put one in violation of another/s.
What's that DeTocqueville wrote about a fine mesh of laws laying over everyone and everything?
Sadly, I think it's clear from the chronology that this fellow confused government inaction with government approval of his position. They are not the same at all. Somebody gave him very poor legal advice about dealing with administrative agencies early on -- or he didn't bother to get any legal advice in the first place.
David, he was working at the direction of the City and State GOVERNMENTS. This FACT was suppressed by the judge in his trial. He'd already had the Army Corps of Engineers tell him - on more than one occasion - that they didn't have jurisdiction, after they'd told him he needed a permit. REPEATEDLY.
So it's no surprise he ignored them after a while.
And on the day of his sentencing, the Supreme Court came down with a ruling declaring that the Corps of Engineers don't have jurisdiction over "waterways" like the one he is charged with "polluting." Thus, he should be free.
Regardless of the legal advice he got or not, he shouldn't have been charged, much less convicted of anything.