Wall Street, Main Street, the Great Outdoors - I write about crime where I find it. Fact is, I've written about folks getting indicted for all sorts of wildlife crimes - some involving polar bears, others involving fish, others involving caviar. Okay, so maybe that's not all technically "wildlife" but, c'mon, I'm a city boy from the sidewalks of Manhattan where the rats and the pigeons roam. In any event, this recent Department of Justice ("DOJ") criminal case really caught my eye, and I just had to bring it to you, hot off the press.
On Decebmer 9, 2010, Jeffrey B. Foiles, 54, of Pleasant Hill, Ill, a professional duck hunter and guide, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Springfield, Ill. The Indictment alleged that from 2003 to 2007, Foiles conspired with others to knowingly transport and sell ducks and geese that had been hunted and killed in violation of federal laws protecting migratory birds.
Allegedly, Foiles sold guided waterfowl hunts at the Fallin' Skies Strait Meat Duck Club in Pike County, Ill., for the purpose of illegally hunting and killing ducks and geese in excess of hunters' individual daily bag limits. Foiles and his associates allegedly falsified hunting records at the club in order to conceal the excesses, and to have filmed the illegal hunts for inclusion in commercial hunting videos.
The Indictment contains 23 counts that charge Foiles with:
Lacey faced a maximum penalty for a felony violation of the Lacey Act or the federal false writing statute of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
SIDE BAR: The Lacey Act is a federal law that makes it illegal to knowingly transport or sell wildlife taken in violation of federal law or regulation. Under the Act, the "sale" of wildlife also includes the sale of guiding services for the illegal taking of wildlife.
A SECOND CUTESY SIDE BAR: The Fallin' Skies Strait Meat Duck Club? Really?? Oh, how I just looooooooove that name. If I were interested in starting a Bearish Wall Street newsletter or contrarian financial advisory firm, boy, would I use that name in a second! All of which might explain why I'm not in the financial newsletter or advisory business.
On June 23, 2011, Foiles pleaded guilty to a crimninal Information charging him with one misdemeanor count each for the unlawful sale of wildlife in violation of the Lacey Act, and for unlawfully taking migratory game birds in violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The company that operates Foiles' hunting club, the Fallin' Skies Strait Meat Duck Club LLC, pleaded guilty to an Information charging it with one felony count each of unlawful sale of wildlife in violation of the Lacey Act and of making false writings in a matter within the jurisdiction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
According to the plea agreements, between 2003 and 2007, guided hunters paid Foiles $250 per day for hunts at the club. Also, Foiles and others at the club admitted to falsifying hunting records in order to conceal the numbers of duck and geese killed in excess of daily bag limits.
Accordingly, the government and the defendants jointly asked the court to sentence Foiles to 13 months in prison; to be followed by one year of supervised release during which time he would not hunt or guide hunters; and to pay a $100,000 fine for which Fallin' Skies Strait Meat Duck Club LLC agreed to serve as guarantor. Further, Foiles agreed to one additional year, following completion of his term of supervised release, during which he will not hunt or guide. Foiles was scheduled for sentencing in September 2011, and the Fallin' Skies Strait Meat Duck Club LLC in October 2011.
On September 21, 2011, Foiles was sentenced to 13 months in prison and one year of supervised release (during which time he may not hunt or guide hunters), and fined $100,000. Also, following the one-year supervised release, Foiles agreed to one additional year during which he will not hunt or guide.
Foiles pleaded guilty to separate hunting-related wildlife charges in Canada on Sept. 14, 2011. The Canadian court has taken the plea under advisement and is expected to decide soon whether to impose the fines and three-year hunting ban jointly recommended by the defense and Canadian prosecutors.