Man squatting at Yosemite National Park vacation home for months gets 5 years in prison

A man who squatted at a Yosemite National Park vacation home for months and trashed the property was sentenced to five years in prison for firearms charges, officials said.

Devin Michael Cuellar, 29, is accused of unlawfully staying at a home in Wawona, California, for several months during the summer of 2021, a federal criminal complaint says.

The homeowner discovered that someone was living in the home after she went to check on the property in August 2021. She found furniture, clothing, tools and garbage littering the kitchen, yard, bathroom, bedrooms and living room, according to the complaint.

The homeowner also found drug paraphernalia and stolen items, including tools and golf clubs, according to a criminal complaint. She told authorities the last time she had visited the property was in April or May of that year and that she had left it tidy and clean.

“The entire house was cluttered and soiled. The bathtub had been left partially filled with water and the toilet contained large clumps of hair,” the complaint says. “An ashtray containing numerous cigarette butts and ashes was left on a table in a small bedroom adjacent to the bathroom, and partially burned candles were also there.”

Authorities searched the property and found mail that contained Cuellar’s name.

About a month later, on Sept. 28, 2021, rangers patrolling the park noticed a sliding glass door of the home was open. The rangers found that several walls in the home had been vandalized with “derogatory epithets,” the complaint says. The following month, during another search of the home, the homeowner found a sawed-off shotgun and ammunition, according to the complaint.

Cuellar knew the homeowner’s daughter but had not been given permission to stay in the home, the complaint says.

Last year, he was indicted on multiple charges including possessing a firearm and ammunition as a felon, unlawful use of a controlled substance in possession of firearm and ammunition, destruction of property and having stolen property, court documents state. Because of a prior conviction of carjacking and possessing a controlled substance, he was prohibited from having a firearm, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California said in a news release.

In May, he pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm and ammunition as a felon in exchange for the other charges being dismissed.

Cuellar was sentenced Monday to five years and three months in prison, the U.S. attorney’s office said. His attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

Minyvonne Burke

Minyvonne Burke is a senior breaking news reporter for NBC News.

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