A father and son from Turner who face hunting and drug charges in Maine pleaded guilty to multiple hunting violations in a northern Pennsylvania courtroom earlier this month.
Everett Tyler Leonard, 31, pleaded guilty to 11 illegal killings and 14 other game offenses, including hunting at night, hunting from vehicles and having loaded guns in vehicles.
Under Pennsylvania’s new, “party hunting” game laws, the first four killings are misdemeanors; subsequent kills are felonies.
Leonard faces up to 24 years in prison and as much as $100,000 in fines, associated costs and the loss of his Pennsylvania hunting license.
Leonard’s father, Everett H. “Lenny” Leonard, 60, pleaded guilty to five illegal killings and a dozen other game violations, including road hunting, loaded firearms in vehicles, killing deer at night and license violations. He faces up to seven years in prison and up to $43,000 in fines and costs, and the loss of his Pennsylvania hunting license.
Both men are scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 15.
Bradford County District Attorney Daniel Barrett said the actions of the two Leonards were especially egregious in a place where deer hunting is a respected and valued tradition.
“It’s almost the perfect storm of illegality, selfishness, senselessness and criminal activity,” Barrett said.
He said it was the first major hunting violations case in northern Pennsylvania since enactment of the laws that were supported equally by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the National Rifle Association.
Both Leonards were arrested by wildlife conservation officers at the Pennsylvania Game Commission following an investigation of illegal hunting in October and December 2010 that took place in the Troy and Armenia townships area, according to Barrett’s office.
A third hunter implicated in the Leonards’ shooting spree pleaded guilty in August.
Lucien H. Clavet, 44, of Monmouth was sentenced to 18 months of probation and fines totaling $1,800 for guilty pleas to unlawful killing or taking of big game, a misdemeanor, two counts of employment of unlawful hunting devices or methods, carrying a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle and two counts of failure to tag and report a big-game kill.
Clavet will be barred from applying for a Pennsylvania hunting license while on probation.
A fourth adult hunter, Carlton “John” Enos, 19, also of Turner, who faces multiple hunting violations in Bradford County, is the only member of the Mainers’ hunting party whose case is still pending in Pennsylvania.
His case is expected to be scheduled for trial, pending hearings on pretrial motions, Barrett said.
A Greene teenager, charged for his participation in the Pennsylvania poaching ring, pleaded guilty to all charges against him there and was sentenced to pay nearly $7,000 in fines. His sentence did not include any jail time, according to a Pennsylvania Game Commission spokesman.
The 17-year-old was charged with unlawful killing and attempting to kill deer, both out of season and with a spotlight using a motor vehicle to hunt, and possession of a loaded firearm in a vehicle. The charges were part of a group of more than 250 filed against him and the four men.
The two Leonards and Enos face similar hunting violations in Androscoggin County. A fourth Turner man, Jason Clifford, 29, pleaded guilty in June in Androscoggin County Superior Court to five misdemeanor charges, including two counts of exceeding the bag limit on deer, driving deer, waste of game and criminal trespass stemming from November violations with the Leonards. He was fined $4,250.
Enos faces eight hunting-related charges in Maine. His attorney failed in August to convince an Androscoggin County Superior Court judge to dismiss two of the charges on constitutional grounds.
Both Leonards appeared in the Auburn courtroom in May to plead not guilty to dozens of hunting and drug charges.
A judge ordered the two men to have minimal contact because the father is alleged to have sold his prescription pain medication to his son, a former police officer.
Everett H. Leonard was restricted by the judge in his prescription for OxyContin, a brand name for the narcotic painkiller oxycodone. He was released on $1,000 unsecured bond and told to possess no hunting implements.
Conditions on the younger Leonard, who is free on a $5,000 unsecured bond, mirrored those of his father, except that he has no prescription to pain medication.
An Androscoggin County grand jury indicted father and son on 35 charges of illegal hunting, drug trafficking, criminal trespass and indecent conduct.
Each was charged with crimes alleged to have occurred between September and November 2010 in Turner, Leeds and Auburn.
The charges followed a four-month investigation by the Maine Warden Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
When Leonard and his son were arrested earlier this year, police seized hundreds of pounds of deer meat, firearms, deer antlers, bows and arrows, spotlights, a mounted hawk and owls, a computer, documents and other hunting-related equipment from their homes.
Counts in the indictment charging the older Leonard include four felony counts of unlawful trafficking of oxycodone in Turner in September and November; two counts of driving deer on Nov. 18 and Nov. 20 in Turner, in which he is accused of participating in a group hunt to purposely drive deer toward a group of three or more people; one count of trapping without a license; and one count of indecent conduct, accused of purposely exposing himself to someone with the purpose of alarming that person.
Charges filed against the younger Leonard are more extensive.
He has been charged with seven counts of hunting while his license was either suspended or revoked, of which five counts are alleged to have occurred over consecutive days of Nov. 17 through Nov. 21; two counts of hunting deer and turkey in Turner during the closed season over consecutive days in September; five counts of night hunting on consecutive days in Leeds and Turner in November; three counts of illuminating wild animals or birds; one count of molesting wildlife with a motor vehicle; and one count of driving deer into a group of three or more people.
He has also been charged with five felony counts of unlawful possession of oxycodone; two counts of criminal trespass, including one charge stemming from his presence on DeCoster Egg Farm property, despite specific instruction from a company representative that he was not permitted to be there; and one count of theft by unauthorized taking, stemming from the alleged theft of baby formula from Walmart in November.
If convicted of all of the Maine charges, the younger Leonard could face a maximum of 43 years in jail and $61,000 in fines; the older Leonard, up to 42 years in jail and $84,000 in fines.
To see more from the Sun Journal, visit sunjournal.com.