Charges dropped in poaching case; prosecutors say they plan to refile

Posted March 04, 2011, at 11:10 a.m.

AUBURN, Maine — Charges filed against Everett H. Leonard of Turner in connection with illegal hunting in Maine have been dismissed.

Prosecutors expect charges to be refiled based on additional evidence recently filed in the case, District Attorney Norman Croteau said.

On Thursday morning, Leonard, 59, made his initial appearance in Androscoggin County Superior Court on two felony counts of unlawful trafficking of scheduled drugs. The charges were dismissed for lack of a Warden Service complaint filed in the case, said Deputy District Attorney Craig Turner. Leonard’s $1,000 bail bond and conditions of release were vacated by Justice MaryGay Kennedy.

Leonard, a former police officer who has no prior criminal history, was arrested Jan. 24 and charged with the felony drug crimes and four misdemeanor charges of criminal trespass and unlawfully driving deer. The charges were filed after a four-month investigation by the Maine Warden Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

That investigation included a search, under warrant, of five homes in Androscoggin and Kennebec counties before Leonard and three other Turner men were charged with 32 crimes.

In addition to Thursday’s dismissal of the drug charges, the illegal hunting charges filed against Leonard no longer are pending in Lewiston’s 8th District Court.

Charges filed against three other Turner men, including Leonard’s son Everett Tyler Leonard, 32, of Turner also have been dismissed, with no charges related to the recent Warden Service investigation pending against any of the men in Maine courts.

In connection with the joint investigation in Maine and Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania courts have charged the Leonards, Carlton John Enos, 19, of Turner, Lucien Clavet, 44, of Monmouth and a juvenile who lives in Greene with more than 250 illegal hunting crimes there, including multiple violations of unlawful killing and attempting to kill deer both out of season and at night with a spotlight, using a motor vehicle to hunt and possession of a loaded firearm in a vehicle.

Pennsylvania game officials are calling the case one of the largest wildlife crime sprees in the state’s history.

Asked about the dismissal of the illegal hunting charges in Maine, Capt. Dan Scott of the Maine Warden Service said by e-mail, “The Maine Warden Service is working with the Androscoggin County District Attorney’s Office, and we are aware of the common processes of the court’s proceedings.”

Scott said the Warden Service had no further comment “at this time.”

According to Croteau, the charges filed against the Turner men were based on sworn affidavits, but in recent weeks full police reports have been filed. Based on that new information, the cases filed in January were dismissed in anticipation of additional charges to be filed “at a later time.”

Warden Service spokeswoman Deborah Turcotte said that department is continuing to work on the case “to ensure that justice is done for the people of Maine.”

Leonard was represented in this case by Lewiston lawyer William Cote, who did not return a call for comment.

See more of the Sun Journal at sunjournal.com.

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