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CO: Hartsel couple admit poaching wildlife, selling pelts

June 3, 2010

Hartsel couple admit poaching wildlife, selling pelts

A Hartsel couple have pleaded guilty to illegally trapping and killing bobcats and selling their pelts to buyers in Montana and Kansas.

Jeffrey M. Bodnar, 37, and Veronica Anderson-Bodnar, 46, used illegal leghold traps to capture animals.

The trapped animals were sometimes shot by Bodnar, according to the federal indictment.

The couple received thousands of dollars from the sale of the pelts, according to the grand jury. One buyer was an undercover agent for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

On March 6, 2008, the grand jury said, the couple sold four bobcat pelts to the undercover agent outside their home for $1,600.

Much of the trapping was done on U.S. Forest Service lands in Park County, according to the indictment.

Bodnar pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Denver to one felony count of conspiracy to transport or sell poached wildlife, and one count of possession of a firearm by a felon.

Anderson-Bodnar pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of trafficking poached wildlife and one misdemeanor count of making false statements.

Bodnar admitted that he conspired with his wife to submit false records to the Colorado Division of Wildlife to get tags for the pelts.

In a pending case in Park County District Court, Bodnar is accused of poaching a black bear, an elk, a mountain lion and a pronghorn, according to court papers.

The affidavits in the case are sealed.

On federal charges, Bodnar faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine in the conspiracy case, and a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the firearm charge.

In other court documents, Anderson-Bodnar admitted selling bobcat pelts to a buyer in Kansas in March 2008.

She admitted that she submitted false documents to the Division of Wildlife in order to get tags for pelts.

When she is sentenced Oct. 15, prosecutors will recommend five years of probation.

Prosecutors will also ask the judge to prohibit her from possessing firearms, hunting, trapping or fishing in the United States or accompanying anyone who is hunting, trapping or fishing.

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