FOUR MEN CONVICTED IN SOUTHERN OHIO POACHING RING
Men targeted trophy white-tailed deer
XENIA, OH – Three Highland County residents and a North Carolina man were convicted in Hillsboro and Chillicothe Municipal Courts in recent weeks of a combined 28 wildlife violations related to the poaching of trophy deer. Acting on calls to the statewide Turn In A Poacher (TIP) hotline, The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife, working in cooperation with the Highland County Sheriff’s Office and the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission, seized more than 150 pieces of evidence during a three-month undercover investigation that began in December 2007. Included in the seized evidence were high-powered rifles, archery equipment, 18 sets of white-tailed deer antlers, 21 packages of untagged white-tailed deer meat, 86 photographs related to the unlawful taking of white-tailed deer, meat processing equipment, illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia.
As a result of the investigation, four men appeared in court on various poaching-related charges.
Jonathan Martin, 43, of Greenfield, was convicted of eight misdemeanor counts related to the illegal harvesting of white-tailed deer and wild turkey. He was sentenced to 180 days in jail, with the time suspended, pending additional wildlife violations. He was also ordered to serve 60 hours of community service. His hunting privileges were revoked for a total of 20 years and he was ordered to pay more than $2,500 in fines, court costs and restitution. In addition, he was ordered to forfeit a high-powered rifle, archery equipment, photographs and deer parts to the state.
Martin’s criminal record shows a history of wildlife violations. Between 2004 and 2007 he was convicted of harvesting a total of four Boone and Crockett-class white-tailed deer by unlawful means.
At this week’s sentencing, Martin told Judge David McKenna of Hillsboro Municipal Court: “I can’t help myself, I’m addicted to killing big deer.”
In addition to Martin, three others were convicted for their roles in the poaching ring.
Michael Martin, 40, of Greenfield, was convicted of multiple misdemeanors related to the illegal taking of white-tailed deer. He was sentenced to 180 days in jail with all time suspended, pending any additional wildlife violations. He was ordered to serve 40 hours of community service. His hunting privileges were revoked for three years and he was ordered to forfeit all illegally harvested deer parts. His fines and court costs totaled more than $1,000.
William Penix, 24, of Hillsboro, was convicted of multiple misdemeanor counts related to deer poaching and to aiding others who were poaching. He was ordered to spend 180 days in jail, with the time suspended pending additional wildlife violations. His hunting privileges were revoked for three years and he was ordered to provide 50 hours of community service. He was also ordered to forfeit deer parts and processing equipment used in the commission of the crimes.
Mark White, 44, of Hickory, North Carolina, was charged with multiple counts related to aiding those engaged in poaching. His case is still pending.
According to Wildlife District Five Law Enforcement Supervisor Dave Brown this was a high priority case for the Division of Wildlife for several reasons.
“First and foremost, the number of complaints that were received on these individuals indicates that the general public will not tolerate the unlawful harvesting of wild animals. Secondly, the Division of Wildlife Law Enforcement Section will investigate and respond to all complaints received from the public,” said Brown.
Calls to the TIP hotline and complaints made to Highland County Wildlife Officer James Carnes sparked the investigation. People observing wildlife violations may report illegal activity by calling the hotline at 1-800-POACHER.
PHOTO OPPORTUNITY: Confiscated items will be available for photographing on Monday, June 23 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Tranquility Wildlife Area Headquarters, St. Rt. 770, Seamen, Oh 45697. Wildlife officials will also be available for interview. Photos will be made available to media who do not attend. See above contact information.