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California Man Fined $9K for Woodrow Wilson Monument Built Unwittingly on Federal Land

In 2012, Southern California resident Din Kossova, working alone, completed the construction of a 20-foot stone and concrete tower he intended as a monument to his favorite U.S. president, Woodrow Wilson (an Albanian immigrant, Kossova reveres Wilson for arguing for Albania's independence at the end of World War I).

Standing amid the desert of the Coachella Valley, the tower is a touchingly quixotic tribute. It's also a federal crime.

Unbeknownst to the 64-year-old Kossova, he had built his memorial within the boundaries of Joshua Tree National Park, where construction of any kind is expressly forbidden to ensure the preservation of the land.

In Kossova's defense, the park is awfully vast, spanning more than 1,200 square miles, and large stretches of the boundary are unmarked. The tower's location is so remote, in fact, that it stood undisturbed for nearly four years before a ranger happened upon it. 

Nevertheless, laws are laws. Kossova was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to pay $9,000 in restitution, most of which will be used to remove his monument.

Park officials say it will probably require explosives.