ID: Boise man loses hunting license for life, three times

John Hoffman, 58, of Boise, was one of the first poaching
offenders in Idaho whose hunting privileges were revoked for life
for his involvement in the infamous 1997 Cascade area railroad
case.

The case involved several railroad employees who were
investigated and cited for poaching multiple big game animals while
doing railway maintenance between Cascade and Horseshoe Bend. Not
deterred, Hoffman followed up that conviction and revocation with a
second lifetime revocation, in part for poaching a deer and placing
his wife’s deer tag on the animal.

In September 2010, I was alerted that Hoffman recently had
purchased a hunting license and a deer tag. When I interviewed him
later, Hoffman justified the purchase by recalling a statement made
by the judge in his first revocation conviction in 1997. In that
case, the judge agreed to “revisit [Hoffman’s] lifetime revocation
in 10 years, pending good behavior.”

When Hoffman’s name came across my desk, I was astounded that
someone with two lifetime hunting privilege revocations would be so
bold as to buy a hunting license and a deer tag, especially knowing
that a computer database tracks all license sales.

Launching my investigation, I quickly learned that this was not
Hoffman’s first purchase since the conviction. He purchased a
hunting license in 2002, less than five years after being “revoked”
for life. Beginning in 2006 through last year, Hoffman made
purchasing a hunting license and deer tag an annual routine. During
this time frame, he moved to Kansas for a year, still claimed Idaho
residency, and also purchased a Kansas resident hunting
license.

After gathering my facts, I interviewed Hoffman by phone in
October 2010. To his credit, he was largely truthful, admitting to
having killed two deer in Idaho while his privileges were revoked.
He justified his license purchases by stating that since the
license machine sold him a hunting license, it must be legal for
him to hunt. As for revisiting the revocation promise made by the
judge in 1997, Hoffman never followed through with it.

In early 2011, nine formal charges were filed against Hoffman
for his new illegal hunting activity. These included several
flagrant charges for purchasing a hunting license and tag while
privileges were revoked, several counts of purchasing a wrong class
license by claiming resident privileges in Kansas and Idaho at the
same time and several charges of making a false statement regarding
his residency on several license purchases. As the legal process
began to unfold, negotiations began.

In August, Hoffman agreed to a plea bargain with the Ada County
Prosecutor’s office, pleading guilty to four charges. Fourth
District Magistrate Kevin Swain presided over the sentencing, where
Hoffman was fined $580 per charge for a total of $2,320. In
addition, Hoffman was placed on two years of unsupervised
misdemeanor probation for each count, for a total of eight years of
probation. Three of the counts involved 180 days of suspended jail
time; Swain ordered Hoffman to serve 90 days in the Ada County jail
on the fourth charge. Following sentencing, Hoffman was handcuffed
and taken from the courtroom to begin serving his sentence. In
addition to all this, Hoffman’s hunting privileges were revoked for
life for the third time.

In the midst of a mound of negatives, the Hoffman case resulted
in one positive change to the Idaho Fish and Game license system. A
program change prevents persons serving one (or more) lifetime
license suspensions from purchasing a license.

Matt O’Connell is a conservation officer in the Southwest
Region.

 

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