Another suspected poacher arrested

Posted Feb. 25, 2011, at 7:47 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 28, 2011, at 11:15 a.m.

Another Maine man has been charged with hunting crimes after a six-month investigation by wildlife authorities here and in Pennsylvania.

Lucien H. Clavet, 44, of Monmouth was the fifth Mainer charged in what officials in Pennsylvania called one of the largest wildlife crime sprees uncovered in that state.

The other Mainers charged in Pennsylvania are Everett H. “Lenny” Leonard, 59, and his son Everett Tyler Leonard, 31, Carlton “John” Enos, 19, all of Turner, and a 17-year-old boy from Greene.

Another man Jason Clifford, 27, of Turner received a summons earlier related to the infractions in Maine.

After the investigation by the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the five were charged with more than 250 counts of violating the game and wildlife code and the crimes code.

The group is charged with multiple counts of killing deer at night with a light, killing deer in closed season and killing deer in excess of seasonal bag limits in Armenia Township and surrounding municipalities in Bradford County.

The group is accused of killing dozens of deer unlawfully during the months of October and December, including three large bucks, during the state’s early muzzleloader and regular firearms seasons. The group also has been charged with numerous wildlife crimes in Maine.

“Good interagency communication and teamwork was what made the investigation a success,” said Dan Scott, captain of the Maine Warden Service. “It’s been our experience that fish and wildlife violators know no jurisdictional boundaries, and this investigation once again proved that to be true. These individuals showed complete disregard for the wildlife laws of both Maine and Pennsylvania. By doing so, they were stealing opportunity and natural resources from the citizens of both states.”

Four of the suspects from Maine were charged last month 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.

After his arrest last month, the elder Leonard told the Sun Journal he planned to fight the charges.

“This is blown out of proportion,” he said. “It’s baloney.”

He could not be reached for comment Thursday night.

The Turner party had rented a trailer at a campground in Bradford County in northeastern Pennsylvania, along the southern New York border, according to Tim Conway, information and education supervisor for the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Northeast Region.

From that base, the men are alleged to have violated more than 100 Pennsylvania gaming laws in October and December last year. Conway estimated the number of deer killed illegally was well into the 30s, and much of the meat was packaged for the group’s consumption.

During the searches last month, game wardens confiscated deer meat, antlers, firearms and bows, ammunition, several stuffed hawks and owls and a computer, among other things.

Wardens have linked the suspects to the killing of eight deer in Maine and at least 30 in Pennsylvania.

Conway said it was not a case of poaching deer for resale, but poaching solely for the group’s benefit. The animals were shot during the state’s early muzzleloader and archery seasons, and also during the two-week rifle season in December.

According to Conway, the group was joined by an undercover Maine warden at the hunting camp, which is a typical investigative technique among the nation’s game-control officers.

Pennsylvania Game Commission Special Operations Division Chief Thomas P. Grohol and Bradford County Wildlife Conservation Officer Vernon I. Perry III filed Pennsylvania’s charges against the group on Wednesday.

Everett H. Leonard will make his initial appearance in Androscoggin County Superior Court on March 3 on two Maine drug charges. It was not known when the others would make court appearances.

Bradford County District Attorney Daniel Barrett said Thursday he expects to talk to prosecutors in Maine about the charges pending in his state against the five Mainers.

Whether the Maine charges or those in Pennsylvania will be prosecuted first remains to be seen, he said.

“There’s no decision on that yet,” Barrett said. The two prosecutors’ offices have talked about the cases, he said.

At some point, he plans to seek rendition of the defendants to Pennsylvania to face the multiple felony and misdemeanor counts.

“We will have the people brought here,” he said.

Unlike in Maine, where felony charges are generally handed up by a grand jury, Pennsylvania courts can hear felony complaints brought by law enforcement agencies at a lower court level during a preliminary hearing, at which time the cases are judged on the merits of a “prima facie” case that shows a crime has been committed and it’s likely the defendant committed that crime. From there, the case moves to the trial stage.

Complaints filed by law enforcement officers must be accompanied by affidavits showing probable cause, Barrett said.

He said he didn’t know whether summonses would be issued or warrants served on the five Maine men.

To see more of the Lewiston Sun Journal, visit sunjournal.com.

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