News and Press Releases

Georgia Man Sentenced to Pay $20,000 for Role In Attempting to Illegally Traffic Live Deer

December 01, 2011

ATLANTA, GA - DONALD LEE VAUGHN, 48, of Villa Rica, Georgia, was sentenced today by United States Magistrate Judge Russell G. Vineyard for attempting to illegally ship deer from Pennsylvania to his ranch in Georgia.

United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said, “Shipping wildlife across state lines without testing for illness and disease potentially threatens the health of our wild deer population. Experts tell us that once diseases spread, they are almost impossible to eradicate.”

“This case demonstrates that there will be consequences to those who indiscriminately transport wildlife in interstate commerce and jeopardize the welfare of native populations,” said U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Special Agent in Charge for the Southeast region, Luis J. Santiago.

VAUGHN was sentenced to pay a $20,000 fine, and ordered to serve six months probation. VAUGHN was ordered to pay the fine directly to the Lacey Act Reward Account through the Department of the Interior. VAUGHN pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Lacey Act. 

According to United States Attorney Yates, the charge and other information presented in court: On or about March 20, 2009, VAUGHN paid $6,000 for five white-tailed deer from a dealer in Pennsylvania and then attempted to transport an additional six whitetail deer that he purchased from the same dealer.  The shipment of deer was stopped by a Yadkin County, North Carolina, Sheriff’s Deputy. The Deputy contacted the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, who determined that there were no transport permits of veterinary health certificates accompanying the deer. VAUGHN admitted to not having the deer tested before attempting the transport.

Federal law requires that any deer shipped out of state are required to be tested for tuberculosis and accompanied by proper ear tags and a veterinarian’s certificate.  Deer sent from Pennsylvania to another state must be certified to be tuberculosis free.  Most states also prohibit introducing deer into a state if the deer are not from a herd certified as free from “Chronic Wasting Disease,” nor are purchasers permitted to receive uncertified deer shipments.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service enforces the unlawful interstate trafficking of wildlife, commonly known as the Federal “Lacey Act.”  The Lacey Act, enacted in 1900, is the first national wildlife law and was passed to assist states in enforcing wildlife laws. It provides additional protection to fish, wildlife, and plants that were taken, possessed, transported or sold in violation of state, tribal, foreign, or federal law.

The case was investigated by agents with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service who worked in cooperation with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. 

This case was prosecuted by Shennie Patel from the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section and Assistant United States Attorney Mary C. Roemer.

For further information please contact Sally Q. Yates, United States Attorney, or Charysse L. Alexander, Executive Assistant United States Attorney, through Patrick Crosby, Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Attorney's Office, at (404) 581-6016.  The Internet address for the Home Page for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia is




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