TX: Texas outlaws slapped with brisk fines, jail time in deer poaching/farming cases
May 6, 2012
By Matt Williams, LufkinDailyNews.com
Gone are the days when game laws didn’t have teeth. Kill a deer
or a duck or any other game animal illegally these days and you are
going to get bit if the law dogs catch you. Depending on the
circumstances, the bite could cost you a small fortune in fines or
earn you a trip to the slammer. Possibly both
Six East Texas
men recently learned the hard way that breaking state game laws can
mean big bumps in the road if you happen to get caught. To wit:
On April 30, Justin Klein of Center was sentenced to five years
probation and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine and $25,000 in
restitution to the state of Kansas after pleading guilty to one
misdemeanor count of interstate transportation of wildlife taken in
violation of state law.
Klein was one of more than a dozen
men charged with illegal hunting activity in Kansas following a
multi-year deer poaching probe conducted by several state law
enforcement agencies and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
According to court records, the case initially involved the poaching
of more than 100 deer by as many as 60 clients who purchased hunts
between 2005-08 through a guide service run by two East Texas
brothers, James Bobby Butler and Marlin Jackson Butler, both of
The Butler brothers ran a hunting camp called
“Camp Lone Star." There, prosecutors say they sold guided hunts to
non-resident hunters for the purpose of illegally hunting and
killing white-tailed deer and mule deer.
The hunts reportedly
sold for $2,500 to $5,500 each.
In May 2010, the
Butlers were named in a 23-count felony indictment handed down by a
federal grand jury in Wichita, Kan. Both men eventually struck plea
deals and were sentenced in June 2011 by U.S. Senior District Judge
James Butler, 42, was sentenced to 41 months
in federal prison and ordered to pay $50,000 in fines and
restitution. Marlin Butler, 36, was sentenced to 27 months in
federal prison and was ordered to pay $20,000 in fines and
Klein’s sentencing came on the heels of
months of legal wrangling that also ended in a plea deal. Last July,
Klein was indicted on three counts of transporting deer across state
lines after the deer were taken illegally in Comanche County, Kan.
The document alleges the deer were taken in violation of Kansas
hunting laws on Nov. 1, 2006 and Nov. 1, 2007.
the factual basis of the plea agreement, Klein acknowledged killing
and possessing a whitetail deer near Coldwater, Kan., on or about
Nov. 1, 2006, without a valid deer hunting tag.
As part of
his probation, Klein will not be allowed to hunt, fish, trap, or
guide, or be with anyone else engaged in those activities, anywhere
in the United States.
In a separate case, four Wood County
men recently pled guilty to multiple charges involving the illegal
harvest of more than two dozen deer in Wood and Rains counties in
Among them were a father/son team, John
Burns, 41, and James Burns, 21, both of Alba; Dustin Potter,
21, of Quitman; and William Lewis, 20, of Yantis.
convictions came on the heels of a 16-month month investigation
carried out by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game wardens Kurt
Kelley, Derek Spitzer and Steve Stapleton. Officers determined there
were more than 500 offenses committed, including 40 state jail
According to TPWD reports, 22 charges were filed
against the men in Wood and Rains counties, including nine Class A
misdemeanor chargers and two state jail felonies in each county.
According to Wood County Assistant District Attorney Joey
Fenlaw, John Burns was sentenced to three years in county jail and
ordered to pay $12,000 in fines for night hunting, hunting with
artificial light and hunting from a vehicle.
James Burns pled guilty to taking wildlife without landowner
consent, a state jail felony, and sentenced to one year in state
prison. All total, the sentences handed down added up to over
$41,000 in fines, 3,000 hours of community service and 12 years of
jail or probation time.
Additionally, all of the men lost their
hunting privileges for five years…….
Also on April 30, U.S.
Magistrate Judge Judith Guthrie ordered a Cherokee County man to pay
a $243,000 fine to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Lacey Act Reward
Account and $157,000 to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation
after pleading guilty to three counts of transportation of wildlife
in interstate commerce in violation of state law.
to TPWD reports, Blake Powell, 32, was the owner of a deer breeding
facility called Rockin’ P White Tails. The report says Powell sold
numerous deer in 2007 that were acquired from out-of-state sources
and imported to Texas in violation of state law.
September, Powell’s grandfather, Billy Powell of Troup, agreed to
pay $1.5 million in fines and restitution after pleading guilty
to smuggling at least 37 deer from Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio into
Texas in violation of state and federal laws. Powell is the owner of
the 5P Ranch. His sentencing called for three years probation and
six months of home confinement.
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