Case Snapshot
Case ID: 6633
Classification: Unlawful Trade/Smuggling, Unlawful Trapping/Hunting
Animal: deer, bird (wildlife)
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Thursday, Oct 31, 2002

County: Grant

Disposition: Alleged

Alleged:
» Adam Lee Lawinger
» Daniel Antillon
» David Barnes
» Robert Becker
» Albert Bowen
» Jeremiah J Camping
» Mike Cavaliere
» Robert Juan Dartez
» Robert Edwards
» Dirk Foster
» Ernest G Godfrey
» Lyle E Hach
» Stephen Scott Lacoste
» Gabriel Lopez
» Douglas P Mihalak
» Barron F Naar
» Samuel I Phillips
» Bradford Ernest Pittman
» Stephen Mark Porter
» John B Quina
» Cleophas J Rojas
» Eric Todd Stafford
» Justin C Tyner
» Riley Roger Wallace
» Robert P Yarnell
» Tony Andrade
» Nicholas Bolen
» Joseph Culton
» Rodrick Calame Daniel
» Joseph Hardy
» Eric Anthony Herndon
» Dennis Herrington
» William Fredrick Hill
» Roland L Hood
» Joseph A Knieriem
» Mitchell D Mckie
» Ronald H McNesby
» David W Morgan
» Joseph Harold Schwab
» Robert Weggesser
» David Michael Whitehead
» Tod Alan Moore
» Jeffrey Godfrey
» Thomas P Shea

Authorities have filed charges against 46 hunters from at least 10 states in connection with guided white-tailed deer and turkey hunts that allegedly violated numerous Wisconsin laws and commercialized the state's treasured wildlife.

The charges follow a two-year investigation by agents of the state Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, centering on Blue River Outfitters and its principal owner, Adam Lee Lawinger, 27, of Blue River.

According to a federal prosecutor, Lawinger and an unindicted co-conspirator are accused of selling guided hunts to residents from Wisconsin and 10 other states and broke state law by allowing the hunters to kill deer and turkeys without licenses, to bait deer inside the chronic wasting disease control area, to shine and shoot deer at night and to kill turkeys with a .22-caliber rifle.
The case, described in a federal information - a charge filed without a grand jury finding of probable cause - also alleges that the hunts attempted to skirt state law requiring that a female deer must be killed for every buck killed. Instead the outfitters would use the same female deer carcass to register multiple bucks killed by the hunters. Also, hunters were directed not to kill female deer in "Earn-A-Buck" zones.

"Each one of the animals taken represents a theft - a theft of a resource owned by all Wisconsin citizens - and a theft of investment and opportunity from law-abiding hunters," said Randy Stark, chief conservation warden for the DNR. "In this case, we have individuals personally profiting from illegally exploiting the public's wildlife resources - contrary to time-honored conservation values." Stark said the investigation revealed "an almost obsessive overemphasis on trophy hunting" that led hunters to cut corners in their pursuit of wildlife. "We believe it is the largest case ever in Wisconsin history involving guided illegal hunts," said Tom Krsnich, investigative unit supervisor at the DNR.

During the investigation, authorities carried out six search warrants in Wisconsin, Florida and Alabama and seized rifles, compound bows and 30 mounted trophy deer alleged to have been taken illegally. The hunters charged come from as far away as California, Florida and Louisiana.
"It was a nationwide investigation," said Timothy M. O'Shea, assistant U.S. attorney for the western district of Wisconsin. O'Shea said the investigation involved dozens of agents, but he declined to say what triggered it.

A message said the phone number listed for Blue River Outfitters had been disconnected. No phone number was listed for Lawinger.
Lawinger and three of the hunters face federal charges. Lawinger has been charged with conspiring to sell wildlife, deer and turkey, valued over $350, taken in violation of Wisconsin law and transported in interstate commerce. He was also charged with selling wildlife (two trophy white-tailed bucks, each over $350, and each transported by interstate commerce) knowing that two California hunters had taken the deer in violation of state law. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Tod Moore, 41, of Mechanicsburg, Pa., Jeff Godfrey, 42, of Lillian, Ala., and Thomas Shea, 43, of Panama City Beach, Fla., were charged with buying and transporting by interstate commerce wildlife (trophy white-tailed deer, each worth more than $350) that they took in violation of Wisconsin law. Each man faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The remaining hunters face charges in Iowa and Richland counties. The alleged violations took place between November 2002 and May 2, 2005.

The hunts took place in Richland and Iowa counties on land owned and leased by Lawinger and the unindicted co-conspirator.

References


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