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Matthew Whitegrass and Benjamin Yellow Owl Plead Guilty Sentenced in U.S. Federal Court

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Great Falls, on July 10, 2012, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Keith Strong, MATTHEW WHITEGRASS, age 20, and BENJAMIN YELLOW OWL, age 21, residents of Browning, pled guilty and were sentenced on charges of violating the Lacey Act.

They were each sentenced to:

Probation: 2 years

Special Assessment: $25

Restitution: $3,500

Forfeiture: firearms

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

On December 30, 2011, in the early evening, a Glacier National Park Ranger heard gunshots near the St. Mary Visitor Center within the boundaries of Glacier National Park. The ranger drove to this area and saw a red truck driving off road in the meadow. The ranger waited for the truck to emerge from the meadow and back onto the road. He then stopped the truck and identified YELLOW OWL and WHITEGRASS. The ranger found two rifles inside the car, a Ruger M77 .30/06 and a Stevens Model 200 .243, as well as spent rifle casings.

Meanwhile, another ranger searched the meadow where the gunshots had been heard. Initially, the ranger found three dead elk with gunshots wounds. The next morning, the ranger located one additional dead elk with a gunshot wound. YELLOW OWL and WHITEGRASS explained to law enforcement that they agreed to go hunt elk on December 30, 2011. Both YELLOW OWL and WHITEGRASS stated they shot at the elk several times in the meadow with the intent to capture the elk carcasses for meat.

The defendants were not authorized to hunt within the boundaries of Glacier National Park and were prohibited from taking wildlife from the park.

The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Glacier National Park Law Enforcement Services and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

 

 

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