Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Game Warden Files--Long Range Violations

Often, violations occur in close proximity to the violator's homes; in fact, they are often the most difficult to prove.  Sometimes however, the violation spans several counties.  Every time the violator travels, and every time another person gets involved along the way, the chance of getting found out increases.

One afternoon before the opening of the deer season I got a call from John Graves, an officer in a different region.  He knew about an illegal deer that had been taken in Schenectady county and the only information was a plate number for a vehicle in Fulton County.  I knew the family and some of those connections so the information went back and forth for a while until we knew we had to start interviewing people.  We started at the home in Fulton County.  When we knocked on the door John just asked right out to see the venison.  We were taken to a freezer in the basement where we found about 250 packages of meat--that's more than one deer.  Our soon-to-be suspect said it was all venison, none of it was labeled as the law then required and he could not account for any lawfully taken deer--after all the season was not yet open. He did admit though that it was venison and it was his.

In the course of the questioning, some other names came up and John went back to explore that part of the case.  I took my guy right to the local judge.  I cited him with one count of illegal possession of venison for each package of meat (which was donated to a sportsmen's dinner).  He sat smugly in the chair as the judge read him the charges and I could see that the judge was not impressed by his attitude.  When the judge asked how he would plea he snottily answered that he was guilty; but the judge would have to wait until payday to get the money--that really impressed the judge!

The judge asked me the opening day for deer season, turned to the calendar and started counting. He put the young man in jail for 10 weekends--which wiped out his entire hunting for the season.

Meanwhile, John had gone back to his region and started interviewing. He came up with a couple counts of taking deer out of season and made one arrest for criminal possession of a weapon. Seems that the shooter in this case was a convicted felon.

We'll never know all the facts, or the source of all the meat we seized, but we made cases in Fulton, Schoharie and Schenectady Counties out of that one complaint.

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