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MT: Rehberg's state head accused of illegal hunt

March 10, 2010

Rehberg's state head accused of illegal hunt

HELENA - Congressman Denny Rehberg's new state director placed himself on voluntary unpaid leave last week after he was cited for illegally killing an elk and obstructing a peace office.

Randy Vogel, hired by Rehberg late last month to replace former state director Dustin Frost, is due in a Virginia City courtroom next Tuesday where he will face allegations that he illegally killed a spike bull elk and left the carcass in the field during a November hunt on a Madison County ranch.

According to Rehberg spokesman Jed Link, Vogel, 57, immediately notified the congressman of the citations after receiving them in the mail last week. The allegations against Vogel include:

Killing more than one elk without authorization; Hunting and harvesting a spike bull elk during closed season; Abandoning the carcass of a spike bull elk in the field; and Obstructing a peace officer.

The citations carry a total of $2,940 in penalties and restitution. If convicted, Vogel also could face up to six months in jail and loss of hunting privileges for 24 months for each hunting violation.

Vogel was traveling out of state and did not immediately return a call requesting comment.

Link said Vogel was not a member of Rehberg's staff at the time the alleged violations occurred.

Link released the following statement Tuesday afternoon after being contacted by a Tribune reporter:

"On March 3 Randy Vogel was notified by the Montana Department of Fish Wildlife & Parks that he had been ticketed for a misdemeanor violation that occurred last fall. Randy was not a member of Congressman Rehberg's staff at the time of the incident. After reviewing the ticket, Randy asked for, and was granted, an indefinite leave without pay from Congressman Rehberg's office. Congressman Rehberg was unaware of the incident in question until Randy informed him of it after receiving notice of the ticket."

The alleged violations occurred on Nov. 18 and Nov. 19. An official for FWP said the investigation is ongoing but declined to comment on specifics of the case.

Madison County Attorney Chris Christensen said more information, including the FWP report on the incident, could become available at the March 16 hearing.

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