Wisconsin Man Pleads Guilty to Lacey Act Violations
OXFORD, Miss. - Felicia C. Adams, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Mississippi, and Luis Santiago, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, announced that:
Peter Jesunas, Jr, 32, of Shiocton, Wisconsin, pled guilty on August 11, 2014, before United States Magistrate Judge David A. Sanders, in Aberdeen, Mississippi, to transporting and attempting to sell wildlife pelts taken in violation of state law. The guilty plea arose out of an investigation which determined that Jesunas had travelled to Mississippi in the Spring of 2012 for the purpose of trapping wildlife on private property. Due to a previous conviction for wildlife related offenses, Jesunas was unable to purchase the required Mississippi trapper’s license. Jesunas successfully trapped approximately 350 animals from 7 different species, all of which were taken illegally since Jesunas did not have a Mississippi trapper’s license.
On or about April 1, 2012, Jesunas transported the pelts back to Wisconsin, where he attempted to sell them. A valid CITES tag is required to transport bobcat and otter skins or pelts in interstate commerce. Jesunas had his brother, Patrick Jesunas, purchase a Mississippi trapper’s license, which Peter Jesunas used to fraudulently obtain the required CITES tags. Jesunas plead guilty to violating the Lacey Act, which states, in relevant part, that it is illegal to transport in interstate commerce wildlife that has been transported or possessed in violation of any state law or regulation. Jesunas violated the Lacey Act in trapping animals without a license and obtaining CITES tags through fraud/false statement, then transporting the pelts across state lines for sale.
Following his guilty plea Jesunas was ordered to pay restitution to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Foundation, and to the Lacey Act Fund, in the total amount of $10,000. Jesunas was further required to forfeit the pelts to the State of Wisconsin. Jesunas was also placed on probation for a period of three years, and, as a condition of his probation, Jesunas will be prohibited from hunting or trapping in any manner, anywhere in the world, during the course of his three-year probationary period.
Patrick Jesunas previously plead guilty to a separate charge for his role in aiding and abetting a violation of the Lacey Act by assisting his brother, Peter Jesunas, in fraudulently obtaining CITES tags. Patrick Jesunas was ordered to pay a fine in the amount of $1,500.
“We are committed to working with Mississippi and its citizens to conserve and protect wildlife,” said United States Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent in Charge Santiago. “Our collective efforts help ensure that these resources will be here for future generations of fair chase hunters, trappers and outdoor enthusiasts.”
This case was investigated by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.