LEWISTON, Maine — Everett H. “Lenny” Leonard, one of four Turner men charged Monday with illegal hunting, vows to fight the charges.
“This is blown out of proportion,” Leonard, 59, said Wednesday. “It’s baloney.”
Leonard, a former Auburn police officer and chief of the Mechanic Falls Police Department from late 1978 until March 1981, said he intends to fight the charges against him but declined to answer other questions.
Leonard and his son, Everett Tyler Leonard, 31, also of Turner, were arrested Monday. Each was charged with hunting violations after a four-month joint investigation by the Maine Warden Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
The older Leonard is facing six violations, including unlawful trafficking in prescription drugs, criminal trespassing and unlawfully driving deer; the younger is facing four charges, including illuminating wildlife and shooting a firearm from a motor vehicle.
Also charged in the case are Carlton “John” Enos, 19, and Jason Clifford, 27, both of Turner. They were summoned to appear in court on 11 violations each, including trapping without a license, hunting deer after killing one, unlawfully driving deer, criminal trespassing and illegal transportation of deer.
According to a Lewiston District Court clerk, the search warrants served on the men for their properties in Turner have been impounded, as have other documents related to the arrests.
Deborah Turcotte, spokeswoman for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, said Wednesday the warrants were impounded “to protect investigatory information we don’t want released at this time.”
During the searches Monday, game wardens confiscated deer meat, antlers, firearms and bows, ammunition, several taxidermied hawks and owls and a computer, among other things. Wardens have linked the four suspects to the killing of eight deer in Maine and at least 30 in Pennsylvania, and the four may be responsible for up to 150 violations of Maine’s game laws in addition to the violations in Pennsylvania.
Enos and the Leonards have no prior criminal convictions.
Clifford was convicted in 2005 of misdemeanor criminal trespassing and in 2007 of operating under the influence.
According to the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, Everett “Lenny” Leonard was certified in September 1976 as a full-time law enforcement officer, during his employment with the Auburn Police Department where he began working in January 1976.
According to Auburn City Manager Glenn Aho, Leonard left in September 1978 to accept a patrol officer position with the town of Mechanic Falls. According to town records in Mechanic Falls, Leonard served as chief from Dec. 24, 1978, to March 1981.
The Criminal Justice Academy had no further information on Leonard’s employment as a police officer in Maine.
According to the Warden Service, the investigation into the four men’s activities began last summer after the agency received anonymous tips through the state’s Operation Game Thief hot line that the Leonards were poaching.
The Warden Service later began working with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, which alleges the suspects are behind “hundreds of violations” of hunting laws in Pennsylvania, according to a statement from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
The Pennsylvania violations were believed to have occurred mainly in October and December 2010 in Armenia Township, a rural area in northeast Pennsylvania with a population of fewer than 200 people. Wardens believe the hunters killed deer and brought them back to Maine, Turcotte said.
According to Pennsylvania Game Commission Special Operations Chief Thomas Grohol, the men are expected to be extradited to Pennsylvania to face “stiff game laws recently enacted to address just this type of poaching.”
Copyright (c) 2011, Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.