Federal jury convicts man of deer trafficking

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Federal jury convicts man of deer trafficking

Postby FFKEVIN » Sat Oct 17, 2009 3:13 am

FROM THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH - http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2009/10/17/Parrott.ART_ART_10-17-09_B1_1CFD64C.html?sid=101

A Guernsey County man was convicted yesterday of interstate trafficking in live deer that hadn't been tested for diseases.

Danny L. Parrott, 62, of Kimbolton, faces up to five years in prison, U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley estimated after a 12-member jury delivered the verdicts in federal court in Columbus. A sentencing date has not been set.

Jurors found Parrott guilty of 14 counts involving the sale and transport of 54 white-tailed deer to a hunting preserve in South Carolina in 2005. They found him not guilty of one count of wire fraud.

State and federal law prohibits moving deer across state lines if they've not been tested for conditions such as tuberculosis and chronic wasting disease. The U.S. attorney's office said Parrott's actions posed potentially devastating risks to the hunting and cattle industries, and public health in South Carolina.

Jurors deliberated six hours before returning a verdict in the trial, which started Oct. 6.

The deer that Parrott sold to James Schaffer, the owner of a hunting preserve in Bamberg County, S.C., eventually were killed by U.S. wildlife officials and found to be free of disease.

Schaffer pleaded guilty in March to illegally importing the deer and testified against Parrott. He agreed to pay $150,000 in fines and $100,000 in contributions to wildlife funds. He is awaiting sentencing.

Parrott's attorney, Phillip D. Lehmkuhl, said in closing arguments that his client was "snookered" by Schaffer, who convinced him that the deer were being sent to Florida, which Schaffer claimed was an "open-border state."

Parrott purchased the deer from several Amish breeders, some of whom testified that they told him the deer hadn't been tested and couldn't be taken out of state.

Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Heather Robinson said Parrott was motivated by greed and purchased untested deer because they are cheaper than tested deer. His company was in bankruptcy and he was close to losing his ranch, she said. He sold the deer for $72,000 and made a profit of about $17,000, prosecutors estimated.

Lehmkuhl said that profit was "too small for someone to intentionally put their neck in the noose." But Robinson said Parrott was setting the groundwork for future transactions with Schaffer.

Jury foreman Olin Hammer of Westerville said afterward that the most believable witnesses were those who testified against Parrott. Jurors found Parrott not guilty of wire fraud because it appeared the money transfer in question was between him and Schaffer, both of whom were involved in the crime, Hammer said.

After the jury was excused, Marbley ruled that Parrott could remain free while awaiting sentencing but must relinquish any guns because the felony convictions prohibit him from possessing firearms. He said Parrott can continue to serve as a hunting guide on the 90-acre ranch as long as he doesn't handle any of the hunters' guns or allow them to be brought into the lodge where he lives.
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