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Jail time, fines handed down in illegal guiding case

Posted on January 29, 2013

Mike MooreColumbus - Three individuals from a Columbus suburb received prison time, fines, and hunting license suspensions for operating an illegal hunting guide service during a two-year investigation, according to the Ohio DNR. The men were prosecuted by Assistant Franklin County Prosecutor Heather B. Robinson and sentenced in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas by Judge Charles A. Schneider on Jan 16.

Scott J. Walsh of New Albany advertised himself as a hunting guide, selling multi-day hunts ranging from $250 to $1,200. He lured people in by claiming to own and/or have permission to hunt on 1,600 acres of prime deer hunting property located in the New Albany area. In reality, Walsh owned no property and only had permission to hunt on 15 acres of land. He provided his clients with photographs of trophy white-tailed deer he himself had poached from the area.

In January 2010, the ODNR Division of Wildlife was contacted by a concerned citizen advising Walsh was engaging in illegal hunting activities. Investigators quickly recognized the name, as the ODNR Division of Wildlife had documented more than 30 complaints from 1990 to 2010 pertaining to Walsh violating Ohio’s wildlife laws.

The Ohio Division of Wildlife launched a two-year investigation and discovered that from the dates of November 2007 through January 2010, Walsh had guided at least 20 hunters from Ohio, Vermont, Texas, Michigan, and New Hampshire on properties owned by 40 different families in the New Albany area. At least nine deer were taken during the two-year period. Walsh assured his clients he had permission to hunt on the various properties. It was later confirmed Walsh did not have permission to hunt and/or guide paying clients on any of the properties and made verbal threats to property owners when confronted. Walsh’s two accomplices who assisted him were his son, Justin Walsh, and Steve Clemons.

In February 2010 multiple search warrants were executed on the residences, vehicles, and storage units of Scott Walsh and Steve Clemons. Numerous trophy white-tailed deer mounts were seized as well as Scott Walsh’s truck and ATV.

Multiple felony and misdemeanor violations were documented during the investigation and included: discharging a firearm near a premises, improper handling of a firearm in a motor vehicle, having weapons under disability, hunting without permission, failing to wear hunter orange,  no hunting license, no deer permit, possession of drugs, and jacklighting.

Anyone observing or suspecting that wildlife violations are occurring may report illegal activity by calling the TIP hotline toll free at 800-POACHER.

Defendants, charges and sentences are:

Scott J. Walsh, 55, of New Albany was convicted of one count of discharging a firearm near a premises (third-degree felony), one count of attempted discharge of a firearm near a premises (fourth-degree felony), one count of improper handling of a firearm in a motor vehicle (fourth-degree felony), one count of wildlife trafficking (third-degree misdemeanor) and one count of having weapons under disability (third-degree felony). He was sentenced to 15 months in prison, and after the defendant is released from prison, he will be on supervised release for five years. Any violation of supervised release will result in imposition of an additional 30 months in prison. He was ordered to pay $5,000 in restitution and may not possess firearms. His hunting rights were suspended for five years. He was also ordered to forfeit his vehicle and ATV, which were both used in the commission of these crimes. All white-tailed deer mounts were also forfeited.

Justin S. Walsh, 23, of New Albany was convicted of one count of improper handling of a firearm in a motor vehicle (fourth-degree felony) and one count of hunting without permission (third-degree misdemeanor). He was sentenced to 30 days in jail. After the defendant’s release, he will be on supervised release for five years. Any violation of supervised release will result in imposition of 12 months in prison. He was ordered to pay a fine of $2,000 and may not possess firearms; his hunting rights were suspended for a period of five years.

Steven A. Clemons, 48, of New Albany, was convicted of one count of improper handling of a firearm in a motor vehicle (fourth-degree felony) and one count of hunting without permission (third-degree misdemeanor). He was sentenced to 30 days in jail and after the defendant’s release, he will be on supervised release for five years. Any violation of supervised release will result in imposition of 12 months in prison. He was ordered to pay a fine of $500 and restitution in the amount of $3,000. He may not possess any firearms, and his hunting rights were suspended for a period of five years.

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