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Hunting Accident File > VIOLATIONS > 2005

Montrose man pleads to multiple hunting license violations

Katharhynn Heidelberg

MONTROSE - When a Division of Wildlife officer checked Robert Sunn's hunting license a few years ago, he had no idea the now 31-year-old Montrose resident was playing the points system with an invalid hunting license. After all, it was a real license - it was just that, the DOW said, Sunn previously claimed to have lost it in the mail and been issued a new one, which he had also canceled before going hunting.

When the paper trail caught up with Sunn in 2004, it proved to be the tip of the proverbial iceberg: he faced 47 counts, ranging from felony forgery to falsifying information between 2001 and 2004.

The case against him drew to a close Monday at District Court, where he pleaded guilty to a single felony-5 count of forgery of a government-issued document. Twenty other such counts were dismissed, according to court records.

Sunn also pleaded guilty to hunting without a license; four counts of providing false information on a hunting or fishing license and 21 counts of failure to attend an education course, which are unclassified misdemeanors.

Bill de Vergie, area wildlife manager for the Montrose DOW office, said Wednesday Sunn had used the names "Matthew R. Sonn" and "Bob I. Son" on 2004 Big Game applications for elk and deer licenses. The felony charge reportedly related to the information associated with the false applications.

De Vergie said Sunn was stacking the system with multiple licenses in order to obtain "preference points" that allow hunters to participate in choice hunts. These points accrue over time.

"He was hoping in a few years to draw one of these premiere licenses, which are hard to get a hold of," de Vergie said.

In terms of the misdemeanor offenses, Sunn had claimed to own a 160-acre parcel in order to obtain 2004 Priority Landowner Preference deer and elk licenses. Eligible landowners are entered into a special drawing for certain premium licenses, de Vergie explained; the problem was, Sunn did not own the land he said he did.

The bulk of the remaining misdemeanors to which he pleaded were charged as failing to attend hunter education courses. According to court records, Sunn falsely stated "Bob I. Son" and "Matthew R. Sonn" had proof of hunter education.

He also applied for licenses for his two young sons by using false birth dates and claiming they had also completed hunter education courses. In Colorado, hunters must be 12 before they can undergo the course; Sunn's children were, according to de Vergie, well below that age.

The wildlife manager said Sunn was trying to build up his sons' points, so that when they were at last old enough to hunt, they could draw premiere licenses.

Sunn did get lucky in 2002 by drawing an elk license for Unit 61, a premium hunting area, but claimed it had been lost in the mail. The DOW issued a duplicate, which de Vergie said Sunn subsequently returned, indicating he could not hunt that year.

The DOW then reinstated the points that had made Sunn eligible for the hunt.

"Then he went hunting on his original license, which he had received in the mail," de Vergie said. "This was actually checked by an officer, but it was a valid license. The field officer had no way of knowing" about the duplication.

Though for many, hunting is king, the lengths to which Sunn is alleged to have gone surprised de Vergie, who said Sunn's case may have been the first of its kind.

"I've never seen anything like this," he said. "Our agency isn't sure it's ever seen anything like this."

Under the plea agreement as it was presented in court Monday, Sunn will receive a five-year deferred sentence on the felony, which will be erased from his record if he does not violate any laws during that time. Sunn would not be able to hunt in Colorado for the next five years. According to de Vergie, he would have to pay thousands in fees and Operation Game Thief donations and jail is a possibility. Formal sentencing is at 10 a.m. Aug. 11.

It is not Daily Press policy to seek comment from defendants before their cases have concluded.

Contact Katharhynn Heidelberg via e-mail at katharhynnh@montrosepress.com 

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