Feds target 60 hunters in Kansas hunting probe

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Feds target 60 hunters in Kansas hunting probe

Postby Oakarver » Tue Sep 14, 2010 1:51 pm


WICHITA, Kan. (AP)-The Justice Department is targeting more than 60 hunters across the nation for allegedly poaching deer during guided hunts at Camp Lone Star in Kansas, a court document shows.
The scope of the grand jury investigation, believed to be one of the largest criminal prosecutions involving the illegal taking of deer, was made public in a court filing Monday in the federal government's case against the camp's owner and his brother, both of Martinsville, Texas.
James Bobby Butler Jr., 41, the owner and operator of the hunting club in Coldwater, Kan., and his brother Marlin Jackson Butler, 36, who worked as a guide, are charged with conspiracy and the unlawful sale and transport of wildlife. James Butler is also charged with obstruction of justice in the 23-count indictment filed May 25 in U.S. District Court in Wichita.
[/align] [/align] If convicted and given maximum sentences, they could face lengthy prison terms. Jim Cross, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Kansas, said in an e-mail that it was the biggest case of its kind prosecuted in the state.
However, James Butler's attorney Kurt Kerns calls the legal action "ridiculous."
"The state of Kansas has paid out over $100,000 to independent contractors to thin the Kansas deer herd for management purposes," Kerns said in an e-mail. "And now our tax money is being spent making federal cases out of alleged rednecks who supposedly harvest an extra deer."
Statistics compiled by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service show the nation has 10.3 million big game hunters. About 12 percent, or 1.3 million people, hunt outside of their state of residence. Kansas is a popular destination, drawing an estimated 88,000 out-of-state hunters each year.
Defense attorneys learned during while examining the prosecution evidence in the Butler case that the government recently mailed so-called target letters to many of the out-of-state hunters who came to Camp Lone Star, Kerns said.
Their court filing noted the government alleges more than 60 hunters illegally killed more than 119 deer between the 2005-2008 hunting season, including the taking of 70 trophy white-tail bucks.
Roger Falk, the attorney representing Marlin Butler, said his client has pleaded not guilty but otherwise declined to discuss the allegations made by the government.
Defense attorneys cited the broader grand jury probe in a motion seeking to designate the case as complex, a ruling that would give them more time to prepare their defense without running afoul of speedy trial restrictions. Prosecutors are not opposing that designation, but a hearing on it was set for Friday before U.S. District Judge Wesley Brown.
The defense filing nonetheless provided a rare public glimpse at the grand jury investigation.
Based on the recent target letters sent to individuals identified as subjects of the investigation, the defense motion said it expects those hunters may be testifying soon in front of a federal grand jury and that other indictments would likely follow.
The Butlers are charged with conspiring to violate the Lacey Act, a federal law that prohibits the interstate transport of any wildlife taken in violation of state regulations. The indictment alleges they violated the act by purchasing and selling white-tailed deer and mule deer.
The government alleges the brothers charged out-of-state hunters $3,500 per hunt with archery equipment and $5,000 per hunt with a firearm for guided hunts at Camp Lone Star and some 50,000 nearby acres leased for hunting activities.
Prosecutors allege that during the guided hunts the Butlers and others encouraged hunters to take deer illegally by hunting without a valid license. They're also accused of letting hunters illegally spotlight deer during night hunts and use illegal equipment, such as firearms during archery season.
The illegal hunting practices allowed the guided hunters to kill more deer than they could have killed lawfully, the lawsuit charges, allowing the Butler brothers to collect more guiding fees and tips.
The obstruction of justice counts involve allegations that James Butler lied to a fish and wildlife agent, told an employee to remove and destroy deer head mounts so they could not used as evidence, and instructed an employee to lie to investigators.
The obstruction of justice charge carries a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, while the other felony charges carry a maximum five-year prison term and $250,000 fine. The government is also seeking a $148,250 forfeiture against both men.

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RE: Feds target 60 hunters in Kansas hunting probe

Postby berudd » Tue Sep 14, 2010 2:23 pm

The statement from the defense attorney that this should not be pursued becuase the state perfroms some culling is an interesting tact.  I wonder if the next time I get a speeding ticket I can claim that I should be let off because police cars sometimes drive faster than the posted limit.  :)

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RE: Feds target 60 hunters in Kansas hunting probe

Postby tonyotony » Tue Sep 14, 2010 3:31 pm

I think the funniest part of this(probably the only funny part) is that the lawyer refers to his client as an "alleged redneck"!

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RE: Feds target 60 hunters in Kansas hunting probe

Postby hookset6969 » Tue Sep 14, 2010 3:55 pm

I would love to know what the state and gov has spent on this case.

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RE: Feds target 60 hunters in Kansas hunting probe

Postby AlleganBowhunter » Tue Sep 14, 2010 8:14 pm

I am caught on the fact its federal charges for violating state laws...  maybe I missed it.

Either way, glad to see someone being prosecuted for violating games laws. We can only hope it serves as a deterrence to others who think of doing the same.
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RE: Feds target 60 hunters in Kansas hunting probe

Postby shaman » Tue Sep 14, 2010 11:54 pm

The Lacey Act was passed to keep folks from illegally poaching in one state and then transporting the game to another.  If you transport the poached game across state lines, it becomes a federal offense. From the state's point of view, this brings federal dollars into the mix for investigating and prosecuting poaching cases.  From the hunters point of view, it makes it all the more important that state laws are obeyed.  The interesting thing about the Lacey Act is that the state itself doesn't have to be enforcing their own laws.  Even if the state doesn't want to prosecute, the feds may find a reason to do so, based on the fact the spoils were transported over state lines.

I remember a case a number of years ago where a certain Fortune 500 company  had been sending its execs to Arkansas for duck hunting junkets for years and the locals got tired of the excesses that these big wigs were perpetrating.  Basically, they'd get down there and break every rule in the book, because they believed they could hop on a jet and be out of there and the local jurisdiction couldn't or wouldn't touch them.  That was until they ran into the Lacey Act and the feds got involved. It still ended up being settled under the table, but the company blind got sold off and they never came back.  The only reason I know about it was that I knew the guys in the next blind.
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RE: Feds target 60 hunters in Kansas hunting probe

Postby Bryan78 » Wed Sep 15, 2010 12:28 pm

ORIGINAL: tonyotony

I think the funniest part of this(probably the only funny part) is that the lawyer refers to his client as an "alleged redneck"!

LOL I couldn't believe that when I read that statement.  I think I would have to be upset if my lawyer referred me as an "alleged redneck" 

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RE: Feds target 60 hunters in Kansas hunting probe

Postby Ifishandhunt » Wed Sep 15, 2010 2:22 pm

The thing I hate most about this article aside from the alleged crime is that they used the term 'hunters'. If the charges are true, then in my book they are poachers, not hunters. I am so tired of hunters being associated with poachers. I hunt, I do not poach. I detest poaching! Someone at church tonight asked me if I saw the article about the 60 hunters etc. I told him I wouldn't call them hunters, they were poachers. Plus i told him I would wait to hear the whole 'true' story before casting blame or accusations and not to believe first reports from the media since they get their stories/facts wrong many times. If the poachers and outfitters are found guilty, then shame on them for putting a black mark on hunting and I hope they are punished to the fullest extent of the law.

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RE: Feds target 60 hunters in Kansas hunting probe

Postby MuzzleHeadWayne » Fri Sep 17, 2010 2:09 pm

I agree with Ifinshandhunt that these people are not "hunters" and should not be identified as such. "Alleged poachers" would be more appropriate. I wonder how it went on for so long without someone in the area reporting it. Three years and over one hundred deer is a lot to overlook. If this story turns out to be true then all those involved deserve what they have earned. I think that if I had paid for a guided hunt and was being told to break the law I would have left without arousing their suspicions. Then I would have reported them. It is sad that sixty "alleged poachers" thought this was ok. It is also distrubing that this guide service operated so freely and for so long. One or two deer or one hunt is not worth losing everything for, as all of those involved will soon find out.
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RE: Feds target 60 hunters in Kansas hunting probe

Postby USNavyChiefRet » Mon Sep 20, 2010 3:08 pm

Well, Minnesota DNR is asking for peoples help to identify the person/persons who "alledgedly" shot a big buck in the southern part of the state and just left it to rot. I hope they catch the person/persons.

These guys, I imagine, went to Kansas, found a bunch of farmers who were willing to lease their land "for hunting" while the land sits fallow during the late fall/early winter, built themselves a complex, plastered it with mounts of trophy deer from who knows where and then got clients to come in and hunt while they "guided" them. "Oh you want to shoot a deer during archery season with a firearm! Sure, we can do that! It will cost you an extra $5000.00, buy yeah we can do that!".
Now I'm only guessing at that, mind you, but it fits the scenario. After all Texas is one of the states where you can "bait & feed" deer before, during, and after the hunting season. So what do they do in Texas? It's not called "hunting" it's called "shooting"!

I have no idea what the game laws are in Kansas, but I don't believe I know any state in the U.S. where "shining" deer is legal.

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