Jan 25, 2007
By Bevin Peppard, T-F staff
MARION -- Five area men accused in more than 100 wildlife violations
pleaded no contest Tuesday to their crimes and were sentenced in Marion
All five appeared before Judge Teresa Ballinger for arraignment on
numerous misdemeanor charges including poaching violations, fraudulent
hunting licenses and tagging violations. Each pleaded no contest to
"A plea of no contest is not an admission of guilt, but it is an
admission of the facts alleged in the ticket or the complaint,"
Ballinger told them.
In all, the defendants -- David Jones, Robert Freeman, Dustin
Freeman, David McKinley and Joshua Stone -- will pay $11,000 in fines
and nearly $7,000 in restitution to the Ohio Department of Natural
Resources for the animals they illegally killed. While all five have had
their hunting privileges suspended and were placed on community
controlled sanctions, three of the men were sentenced to 60 days jail
Upon completion of their arraignments, Ballinger moved to the
sentencing portion of the case. The judge requested and accepted
sentencing recommendations from City Law Director Mark Russell, who
worked in conjunction with Wildlife Officer Bill Runnels with the
Division of Wildlife on the case.
"From what I've been told, that's a significant amount compared to
other cases throughout the state," Russell said when asked later if the
sentences imposed were appropriate for the crimes committed. For the 114
wildlife violations, the men faced a possible sentence of nearly 42
years in jail and $90,000 in fines.
He said it is important to note that none of the charges brought
against the men were dropped and that he requested their sentences run
"If they violate (probation) we've got an enormous amount of time we
can impose," he said.
He considered losing hunting privileges a serious consequence.
"To hunters, that's an equal hit compared to jail time," he said.