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Hunting Accident File > VIOLATIONS

Hunter with criminal past convicted again

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Cordova jury found Michael A. Roberts, 50, guilty of unlawful possession of game following a two-day trial that concluded on June 23. The trial was remarkable for several reasons, the first being that Cordova has not had a criminal jury trial in approximately seven years. Secondly, although jurors did not know Roberts and were not privy to his prior record, this was a high-profile defendant.

Roberts' long history with the law ebbed into celebrity status in 1999 when he fled into the woods while being pursued by a trooper helicopter following an extensive sting operation that began with an inquiry from a California hunter who became suspicious of Roberts' credentials. Roberts' East Coast family made an emotional public appeal to the then-fugitive hunting guide to turn himself in after evading arrest for approximately two weeks. In the end, Roberts was on the run for almost a year before he was finally arrested and brought to trial on 16 charges including running an illegal guiding operation, guiding without a license, hunting without a license - and similar to last week's trial - unlawful possession of game and same-day airborne hunting. At the time of the 2000 trial, investigators seized animal parts including bear gallbladders they said were destined for sale on the Korean black market.

Repeat offender

According to court records, Roberts is a repeat offender who has served jail time and whose other run-ins with the law include failure to pay child support, using a false Social Security number, driving without a license, flying without a license, theft, sub-legal hunts and wanton waste of wildlife. His latest brush with the law came about while Roberts and friend Theodore Williams were returning from a hunting trip last fall to Cape Yakataga. Roberts, flying a friend's Piper Supercub, touched down in Cordova briefly to refuel. Trooper Alex Arduser had noticed the plane flying overhead earlier and while driving to the office noticed the plane parked at the city airstrip. Arduser observed moose antlers tied to the plane's struts and stopped briefly to ask the travelers whether they had a moose harvest ticket. Williams replied that he did, however it was somewhere in his luggage. Arduser asked Roberts if the antlers were legal size and Roberts replied matter of factly that yes, they measured 52 inches, a point which authorities later contested. The travelers indicated to Arduser that they had been hunting 13 miles from Cape Yakataga and had been weathered in for several days. The pair was anxious to return to their final destination, which they indicated was Anchorage. Arduser testified that he was mindful of the limited fall daylight hours and knowing that it would take some time for them to unpack the plane to locate the hunting license and then repack it, he determined to let the men get under way. Arduser returned to his office and got on the computer to look up the missing harvest ticket only to discover that Williams did not in fact have a valid harvest ticket and the case unfolded from there.

Williams was ultimately found guilty of hunting without a license. He was fined $5,000 and served 10 days in jail.

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