Owners and employees of a Los Gatos nudist resort face criminal charges after authorities accused them of stealing water from a local creek.
Lupin Lodge co-owners Glyn Stout, 77, and wife Lori Kay Stout, 53, piped water from nearby Hendry's Creek last year to water their drought-parched camp despite several warnings, according to a complaint filed by the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office. Prosecutors have charged them with felony conspiracy.
The Stouts and resident-staffers John Berryessa, 49, and Michael Buckland, 38, also face six misdemeanor charges for trespassing on land owned by the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District.
All four will be arraigned next month. If convicted, they face up to three years in county jail.
The naturist resort, founded in 1936 by a utopian businessman, has survived the 1970s drought, wildfires, mudslides and earthquakes, according to a feature in the Mercury News detailing the camp's water woes.
But this current dry spell has hit the camp pretty hard, forcing it to shell out thousands of dollars to truck in water from outside sources. With anywhere from a few-dozen to 60 residents, Lupin Lodge is one of the state's smallest water districts and relies mostly on wells for running water and to fill its 38,000-gallon skinny-dipping pool.
Though the Stouts already cut water use by 40 percent in the past year by letting the bocce lawn die and switching to disposable plates and cutlery, the resort has struggled to cope with the drought. Cal Fire also demands an 87,000-gallon reserve to fight fires.
Last summer, the Stouts asked the open space district if they could place temporary pipes to draw water from Hendry's Creek as the prolonged drought dried up the resort's supply. District officials declined the request.
Undeterred, according to prosecutors, lodge owners trespassed on foot and in cars, clearing an old fire trail and causing significant environmental damage. They allegedly installed water lines and tapped the creek between July and November of last year.
In photographs taken by the district's wildlife cameras, the defendants are seen laying plastic tubing a half-mile upstream to a waterfall, according to Deputy District Attorney Denise Raabe.