Federal Jury Finds Finland, Minnesota, Man Guilty Of Violating The Endangered Species Act And Making A False Statement To A Federal Official
MINNEAPOLIS – Today in federal court, a trial jury found a 55-year-old Finland, Minnesota, man guilty of violating the Endangered Species Act and making a false statement to a federal official. Vernon Lee Hoff was specifically convicted of one count of violating the Endangered Species Act and one count of false statements to a federal officer. Hoff was indicted along with co-defendant Kyler James Jensen, age 31, also of Finland, Minnesota, on July 16, 2012.
The evidence presented at the four-day trial proved that Hoff lied to United States Fish & Wildlife Service officials when asked whether he spoke on the telephone with Jensen about transporting two wolf carcasses that Jensen purposely killed with his vehicle on February 17, 2010. After the call, Jensen loaded the two gray wolves into his vehicle, traveled to Superior National Forest, and buried them with the use of a bulldozer. At the time, the gray wolf was listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. It was removed from that list in Minnesota in January of 2012.
In a hearing on November 13, 2012, Jensen pleaded guilty to two counts of violating the Endangered Species Act.
Both Hoff and Jensen face a potential maximum penalty of six months in prison for each count of violating the Endangered Species Act. Hoff faces a potential maximum penalty of five years in prison for making a false statement to a federal official. United States District Judge Ann D. Montgomery will determine their sentences at future hearings, not yet scheduled.
This case is the result of an investigation by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura M. Provinzino.