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Hunting Accident File > VIOLATIONS: > 2004

MAN PLEADS IN GATOR HUNT CASE

Jack Ridley Harper to give up licenses

By SARAH LUNDY, slundy@news-press.com  

Published by news-press.com on January 6, 2004

A Boca Grande fishing tournament promoter pleaded no contest Monday to dealing in stolen property and four counts of identity theft in a case involving illegal alligator hunting.

Jack Ridley Harper, 59, entered into the agreement with the statewide prosecutors office and was sentenced to five years probation, during which he cannot get a hunting or fishing license. He can’t participate in the promotion or sponsorship of fishing or hunting events.

Harper also must give up all his Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission hunting and fishing licenses. He has to pay a total of $20,327 in fines and court, prosecution and investigative costs.

Harper’s 2001 arrest ended an 11-month investigation by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Office of Statewide Prosecution.

Irregularities in the 2000 Public Waters Alligator Harvest sparked officials look at Harper.

Alligators are protected by state law and can be killed only by licensed nuisance alligator hunters or by people legally permitted to hunt during regular events, such as the harvest.

Hunting permits are randomly selected through computer drawing in a lottery.

The investigation revealed that Harper convinced 150 people visiting his marina on Boca Grande to apply for an alligator hunting license. Of those, 36 people were selected through the lottery.

Investigators accused Harper of forging these people’s names on the licenses and paying the Florida-resident fee of $250 for the permits. He harvested about 60 alligators and sold them to an alligator products dealer, according to the FWC.

“This is an unusual case to the extent that he went to to undermine the system for personal gain,” said Gary Morse, FWC spokesman. “The fact that he was submitting forged signatures on legal documents is certainly playing Russian roulette with the law.”


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