News and Press Releases

James Ernest Lepla Sentenced in U.S. District Cour

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Great Falls, on March 17, 2010, before U.S. District Judge Sam E. Haddon, JAMES ERNEST LEPLA, a 74-year-old resident of Calgary, appeared for sentencing. LEPLA was sentenced to a term of:

  • Prison: 2 months (time served)
  • Special Assessment: $100
  • Fine: $10,000 (to be paid immediately)
  • Supervised Release: 3 years

LEPLA was sentenced in connection with his guilty plea to smuggling and making false statements.

In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carl E. Rostad, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:

LePla is a Calgary taxidermist who had been submitting fraudulent importation documents to bring in mounts.

In October of 2008, LEPLA imported two mounts, a muskox trophy valued at $4,200 and a giraffe trophy valued at $3,600, using paperwork identifying an Arizona importer, who never received either mount.

In 2010 LEPLA attempted to bring in 5 mounts using the name of a Pennsylvania importer who indicated that only three of the items were in fact his mounts.

LEPLA smuggled in illegal imports using partially accurate paperwork to hide the smuggled items.

Because there is no parole in the federal system, the "truth in sentencing" guidelines mandate that LEPLA will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, LEPLA does have the opportunity to earn a sentence reduction for "good behavior." However, this reduction will not exceed 15% of the overall sentence.

The investigation was a cooperative effort between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.



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