BANGOR, Maine — A Greenfield man facing multiple hunting-related violations pleaded guilty Monday in Penobscot County Superior Court to more than 30 criminal charges.
Adam Webber, 28, was facing 27 charges in Penobscot County and 25 charges in Hancock County, according to court records. Of the combined charges, 32 were for hunting-related violations including multiple counts each of night hunting, illuminating wildlife, having a loaded gun in a vehicle, possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, hunting on Sunday and hunting or possessing deer during a closed season.
According to Lacher, Webber pleaded guilty Monday to 31 of the total 52 charges he faced, while the rest were dismissed as part of a plea agreement worked out between prosecutors and Webber’s defense attorney, Eugene Sullivan. As a result of the 31 convictions, most of which were misdemeanors, Webber was sentenced to serve three years in prison with all but one year suspended and two subsequent years of probation. He also was ordered to pay approximately $17,000 in fines and restitution of up to $300.
Contacted Tuesday by phone, Sullivan said he considers the plea agreement to be a successful resolution for his client. Webber’s exposure to potential fines based on the original charges was “pretty enormous,” Sullivan said, even though the imposed fine total of approximately $17,000 still is relatively high. He did not estimate the amount of fines Webber faced before the plea agreement was accepted by the court.
“It could have been a lot worse,” he said of the potential fines his client faced.
The charges stemmed from an investigation by the Maine Warden Service that lasted over a year, officials said. According to Penobscot County Assistant District Attorney Tracy Lacher, Webber committed the hunting violations mostly last fall in Townships 32 and 34 in northern Hancock County and in the Greenfield area.
Additional criminal charges that Webber faced in Penobscot County as a result of the same warden service investigation include receiving stolen property, criminal simulation (removal or altering a serial number), operating a motor vehicle after revocation, unlawful trafficking of scheduled drugs, unlawful possession of drugs, indecent conduct and disorderly conduct.
According to Lacher, Webber was convicted of felony burglary in 2003. Aside from the poaching, incidents that led to some of the charges that he pleaded guilty to on Monday include the sale by Webber of 15 Vicodin pills in November 2012 and an intentional act of vandalism to his girlfriend’s car, the prosecutor said.
Webber and two other men, his brother Shane Webber, 30, and Tobin White, 38, both of Greenfield, are believed to have committed many of the acts together, according to Lacher. Three stolen Jeeps allegedly were found in their possession in February 2013, including one that was taken from Lucerne Auto Sales in 2010, she said. The criminal simulation charges — one filed against Adam Webber and another filed against White — stem from attempts to alter the Jeep vehicle identification numbers.
All three men were charged with receiving stolen property in connection with the stolen Jeeps but none of the men was charged with stealing the vehicles, Lacher said, which was a charging decision made by prosecutors based on evidence in the case. She said no other person is believed to have been involved in the apparent auto thefts.
Shane Webber is facing four counts of receiving stolen property and criminal simulation. White is facing 28 charges, including possession of an untagged bobcat and multiple counts of possession of an unregistered deer, night hunting, illuminating wildlife, hunting or possessing deer during a closed season and possession of antlerless deer.
Other criminal charges White faces include criminal simulation, operating a motor vehicle after suspension, unlawful trafficking in scheduled drugs and 11 counts of receiving stolen property.
The cases against Shane Webber and White are pending, according to Lacher. The Penobscot County district attorney’s office is in the process of discussing possible plea agreements with them.
Lt. Dan Scott of the Maine Warden Service said Tuesday evening that the case against Adam Webber took a long time to build but that it was worth it. He said the Operation Game Thief hot line was helpful in gathering information used in the investigation.
More and more often, people who face other serious charges are committing fish and game violations, Scott said, and wardens are coming across more extensive patterns of illegal hunting. People who routinely violate hunting laws, he said, essentially are stealing public resources from other Maine residents.
“It’s unfair to the wildlife and to all the hunters who are out there trying to do it right,” Scott said. “Adam Webber is a serious fish and wildlife violator. He’s someone who really needed to be caught.”