Turner man pleads guilty to illegal hunting, drug trafficking

Everett T. Leonard enters a guilty plea on numerous charges including deer poaching and night hunting in Androscoggin County Superior Court Tuesday morning.
Amber Waterman | Sun Journal
Everett T. Leonard enters a guilty plea on numerous charges including deer poaching and night hunting in Androscoggin County Superior Court Tuesday morning.
Posted Dec. 12, 2012, at 5:50 a.m.

AUBURN, Maine — Everett T. Leonard of Turner pleaded guilty Tuesday morning to a dozen charges, including many misdemeanor hunting violations and a felony drug charge.

Leonard, 33, along with his father, Everett H. Leonard, also of Turner, was indicted in May 2011 on a total of 35 charges of illegal hunting, drug trafficking, criminal trespass and indecent conduct.

He pleaded not guilty later that month, but changed his plea Tuesday in Androscoggin County Superior Court as part of a plea deal with the district attorney’s office.

The charges, which followed a four-month investigation by the Maine Warden Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Pennsylvania Game Commission, were in connection with crimes that occurred between September and November of 2010. An undercover investigator observed many of the violations that resulted in charges. In Maine, the violations occurred in Turner and Leeds.

Leonard has no prior criminal history and has been free on $5,000 unsecured bond since his indictment.

His sentencing will be held at a later date.

Leonard pleaded guilty Tuesday to five counts of hunting under revocation, four counts of night hunting, molesting wildlife, driving deer and unlawful possession of the narcotic drug oxycodone.

The final charge is a Class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Convicted felons are prohibited from having guns.

More than a dozen other charges were dismissed by prosecutors.

Prosecutors and Leonard’s defense attorney will each have a chance to argue for the sentences they favor, but the judge is not restricted by any sentencing agreement or cap.

The elder Leonard was sentenced in this case and was given no jail time. The former Mechanic Falls police chief agreed in September to a deal that required him to spend three months behind bars. But a judge suspended the sentence because of the 61-year-old Leonard’s health problems. In the past year, he has undergone prostate surgery, was diagnosed with diabetes and suffered a stroke.

The elder Leonard had faced up to 42 years in jail and $84,000 in fines for illegal hunting activities in 2010. He also was charged with selling oxycodone.

When Leonard and his son were arrested in January 2011, police seized hundreds of pounds of deer meat, guns and hunting-related equipment from their homes.

“This has been a significant event,” Androscoggin County Superior Court Justice MaryGay Kennedy said Tuesday.

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