Maine authorities break-up widespread poaching operation

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Anson man pleads guilty to poaching.

By Associated Press,

12/19/2001 10:45

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) An Anson man has pleaded guilty to 10 deer poaching-related charges in what a prosecutor called a widespread poaching ring in central Maine.

Richard Whipple, 38, pleaded guilty Tuesday morning in Kennebec County Superior Court in Augusta. Evert Fowle, an assistant district attorney, said Whipple will spend 120 days in jail, serve two years probation and pay more than $9,000 in fines and fees.

Fowle called Whipple the ringleader of a poaching operation around the Somerset County towns of Madison and Starks. Law enforcement officials arrested nearly two dozen people earlier this month and charged them with more than 160 fish and game violations and drug charges.

''We hope this sends a message that those who engage in the wholesale slaughter of deer will go to jail,'' Fowle said.

The Maine Warden Service and the Somerset County Sheriff's Department this month arrested 21 people in simultaneous raids. The charges ranged from night hunting to possession of drugs.

Whipple pleaded guilty to 10 of the 63 original charges against him, including exceeding the bag limit for deer, hunting from a motor vehicle and night hunting.

Officials said those who were charged were not involved in a commercial poaching ring, but typically would keep the venison or give it to friends.

Fowle said the arrests put an end to the most significant group-poaching operation he had seen in his 16 years as a prosecutor.

Fowle said five other people have already been sentenced and ordered to pay fines totaling more than $23,000. The rest of the defendants are expected to be in court in February.

''I hope the sense of entitlement some feel about our natural resources is over,'' Fowle said.
 

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