New York Outdoor News Cuffs and Collars — April 7, 2017

(Editor’s note: A criminal charge is merely an allegation that a defendant has committed a violation of the criminal law, and it is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the state of New York’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.)

Poaching and drug arrests
(Fulton County)

On Dec. 21, ECOs Shane Manns, Scott Pierce, and Steve Shaw, with assistance from the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department, executed a search warrant at the home of a suspect in the town of Bleeker who allegedly shot a whitetail buck over a bait pile with the aid of a spotlight from the second story window of his house. The ECOs successfully recovered the rifle used in the illegal hunting incident, the buck’s antlers and the venison from the suspect’s freezer. In addition, the Fulton County sheriff’s office seized a large bag of marijuana and hallucinogenic mushrooms that were found in plain view in the suspect’s home. The suspect was arrested and charged by the ECOs with the illegal killing of the buck, hunting without a license, hunting over bait, hunting during closed hours, and hunting with the aid of a spotlight. He was also charged by the Fulton County sheriff’s office with criminal possession of marijuana, and federal charges are pending regarding the mushrooms and firearms possession.

Waste tires
(Franklin County)

In November, ECO Jennifer Okonuk began an investigation into the complaint of waste tires being stored at an auto repair facility in the town of Dickinson. After an inspection was completed with assistance from DEC staff, multiple Petroleum Bulk Storage violations were documented, in addition to more than 1,000 waste tires being stored on site. In December, Okonuk and DEC staff conducted a follow-up site inspection and discovered additional violations, including the illegal disposal of lead-acid batteries, which had been buried on the property. The case is now being handled jointly by the Division of Law Enforcement and DEC’s Office of General Counsel.

Double trouble
(Westchester County)

On Dec. 27, a complainant contacted DEC’s Dispatch Center to report a man hunting deer over bait with a crossbow in the town of North Salem. The caller, a hunter himself, was also concerned because he saw the man entering the woods at approximately 4 p.m., which was unusual because legal hunting hours that day ended at sunset, or 4:32 p.m. ECOs Josh Crain and Tony Drahms arrived at the site around 4:30 p.m. and found the red truck described by the complainant. The two ECOs waited for the man to come out of the woods, and at approximately 5:15 p.m., they watched a man walk to the truck from the woods. The man denied using bait for hunting but admitted that he had been hunting after sunset. In addition, a loaded crossbow was found in the front seat of the truck. Crain issued the man tickets for hunting deer during closed hours, hunting with an illegal implement, attempting to take deer illegally, failing to wear a back tag while hunting, and possessing a loaded crossbow in a motor vehicle.

Two days later, Drahms spotted the man’s truck parked at the same property. Drahms located the man hunting out of a treestand over a pre-established bait pile. This time the man admitted to placing bait in the area and to shooting a doe a few days earlier. The man was issued additional tickets for depositing a substance to entice deer to feed, hunting deer over bait, illegal taking of a deer, and, once again, failing to wear a back tag while hunting.

First aid training
(Oswego County)

From Jan. 3 through Jan. 5, Region 7 ECOs Matt Harger, Jeff Krueger, Paul Sherman, and Dave Thomas attended first aid instructor training at the Division of Law Enforcement (DLE) Training Academy in Pulaski. DLE first aid instructors received training from two senior agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Tactical Combat Casualty Care, which covers life-saving techniques that officers can use in a fluid, potentially deadly situation. Tech/Sgt. Anthony Panipinto also led discussions on the evolution of DEC’s basic first aid and CPR program, which is taught to other DLE members, as well as DEC civilian staff across the state. The students concluded the course by becoming certified as Naloxone instructors. Naloxone is the life-saving opioid-canceling drug that has been issued to DLE officers across the state and has been credited with saving the lives of overdose victims.

Deer shot in the road
(Ulster County) 

On Jan. 4 at approximately 6:30 p.m., ECO Joshua Sulkey responded to a 911 call with an Ulster County deputy for a deer that had been shot in the roadway. Upon arrival, the man who shot the deer was still on scene. He admitted to shooting the deer with his .380 pistol, which was secured by the officers. He claimed that the deer was injured in a car accident and that he decided to shoot it to humanely end its life. He was issued tickets for illegally killing a deer, discharging a firearm from a roadway, and discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a residence. The officers explained to him the dangers of shooting a firearm near houses and from the road at night. He was set to appear in Marbletown Court to answer the citations.

Four bucks on Facebook
(Orange County)

On Dec. 31, ECO Chris Lattimer was informed by multiple sources that someone was bragging on Facebook about shooting four bucks this past season. Lattimer found the Facebook post, taking screen shots of the subject with the illegal deer, although the post was soon deleted. Lattimer and ECO Kimberly Garnsey went to the suspect’s home and conducted a brief interview with him. After initially lying, the alleged hunter admitted that he had shot the four bucks on his property this past season and tagged two of them with his father’s tags. He stated that three of them were shot during the legal seasons and one was shot with a rifle during the late archery season. The illegal hunter stated that he did not butcher all of the meat, which was later confirmed when one of the carcasses was found in a field behind his house. He did, however, possess all of the racks, and one was made into a European mount. The hunter was issued tickets for illegally taking protected wildlife, taking in excess of the bag limit for deer, taking deer with an illegal implement, possessing the tags of another person, and for failing to report the take of deer, all returnable to the New Windsor Town Court. The European mount and one skull cap were photographed and seized as evidence. The illegal hunter will not only face criminal penalties, but also may be subject to the revocation of his hunting license.

Illegal stripers
(Rockland County) 

On Jan. 4 while on patrol at the Haverstraw Marina, ECOs Maxwell Nicols and Andrew Kostuk received a tip that fishermen were catching striped bass and tossing the fish into the weeds behind them. After watching the fishermen for a while, the ECOs confronted the men and asked if they had any luck fishing. The men said they hadn’t, but after a brief search Nicols pulled a striped bass, still alive, from the weeds within feet of where the men had been fishing. Further investigation led to a second striper. The men were instructed to pack up for the day and were escorted back to their vehicles, where they were issued tickets for  possession of striped bass out of season.

Repeat offender
(Sullivan County) 

On Jan. 4, ECO Tom Koepf was contacted by DEC staff regarding a construction project that was discharging large amounts of turbid water into a nearby stream in the town of Fallsburg. When the officer arrived on site, he observed a large area of cleared land that would soon be used for a new apartment complex. A construction crew had recently been working on the site and failed to keep a stormwater runoff drain from becoming clogged. As a result, thousands of gallons of turbid water were running off site and into a DEC-regulated wetland and Class B protected stream. Koepf observed that there were no preventive safety measures on site to keep turbid water from being released. The owner of the construction company was issued a summons for polluting water in contravention of standards. The owner will face fines as high as $37,500. This is the third time the company has been cited by ECOs for its carelessness.

Illegal dumping
(Sullivan County) 

On Jan. 5, ECO Ricky Wood responded to a garbage dumping complaint along Flynn Road in Parksville. Among various materials located in the garbage, Wood found a receipt from the Liberty Shop Rite, which contained customer information. The garbage was photographed and Wood responded to the store for a follow-up. With the assistance of Shop Rite staff, Wood obtained a name, date of birth and address associated with the customer on the receipt. In addition, Wood reviewed videotape from the store and ascertained a physical description of the customer. On Jan. 6, Wood met with the suspect at his Parksville residence for an interview. After a brief interview of the suspect and his mother, it was determined that they had driven to Flynn Road and intentionally dumped the trash at the location. The appropriate summonses were issued, and the mother and son team quickly drove to the location and cleaned up the mess. The charges were pending in Liberty Town Court.

Categories: Cuffs & Collars

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