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Family mulls guilty pleas in Wyoming illegal hunting operation

March 16, 2012

By Jeremy Pelzer, Casper Star-Tribune

CASPER, Wyo. — Several members of a ranching family near Ten Sleep may soon plead guilty to charges that they allowed out-of-state hunters to tag wildlife with their Wyoming landowner hunting permits, according to the prosecuting attorney and court records.
 
Richard “R.C.” Carter, owner of Big Horn Adventure Outfitters, allegedly took more than a dozen hunters out on his family’s property from 2003 to
2009 to kill elk, deer and antelope, according to a federal indictment issued last July.
 
Richard Carter Sr. and Mark Carter — R.C.’s father and younger brother, respectively — allegedly used their own tags on the animals shot and falsely claimed in affidavits that they killed them.
 
R.C. and Mark Carter then helped to transport the animals back to the hunters’ homes in other states in violation of federal law, the indictment alleged.
 
Two hunters who hired R.C. Carter as a guide, Steve Farah and Matt Robinson, were also indicted for allegedly shooting wildlife without a license and illegally transporting the animals back to their home state of Oregon.
 
Robinson was accompanied by his father, James, who was previously indicted.
 
R.C. Carter charged between $3,000 and $7,500 per hunter and/or per hunt for his services, not including tips, according to the indictment.
 
However, the indictment states that Carter occasionally bartered or exchanged guided hunts for advertising, client referrals and guided fishing trips.
 
The Carters procured so many landowner tags, the indictment states, because in 2004 they subdivided their property into eight 160-acre parcels, so that they and members of their family could receive a landowner elk and antelope license for each parcel.
 
At the request of prosecutors, the trial has been moved from Jackson to Casper on March 27.
 
All of the defendants have pleaded not guilty. However, on Friday, the senior Carter and Farah filed paperwork to change their plea on at least one of the charges against them.
 
Their change of plea hearing will be held Wednesday in Cheyenne.
 
In addition, Robinson told the court it appeared that he would be the only one of the defendants going to trial, according to the judicial order by Judge Nancy Freudenthal granting the request to move the trial to Casper.
Darrell Fun, the federal prosecutor in the case, also said Friday that currently appeared to be the case, though he added that could change by March 27.
 
R.C. Carter didn’t return a phone call seeking comment Friday afternoon.
 
If convicted, R.C. and Mark Carter each could face up to 55 years in prison as well as fines of up to $2.75 million. Richard Carter Sr. could receive up to five years in prison, as well as a $250,000 fine.
 
Farah could receive up to 15 years in prison, as well as a $750,000 fine, if convicted. Matt Robinson could face up to 10 years’ prison time and a
$500,000 fine.

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