FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
WEDNESDAY - September 17, 2008
WILMINGTON - United States Attorney George E.B. Holding announced that in federal court today Senior United States District Judge James C. Fox sentenced MICHAEL AUGUSTUS COMSTOCK, 50, of Columbia, North Carolina, to 78 months’ imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release.
A Federal Grand Jury returned a Criminal Indictment on November 14, 2007 charging felon in possession of a firearm. On June 16, 2008, after a four-day trial before a federal jury, COMSTOCK was found guilty of the charge.
On May 1, 2007, officers with the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission were conducting surveillance of COMSTOCK. They believed that he was hunting black bear out of season, using bait, and killing more than one bear per season, all in violation of law.
Officers staked out a position at COMSTOCK’s house. A baited area was located about a quarter of a mile south of COMSTOCK’s house, where a 55 gallon drum of peanut butter was chained to a tree. Early that morning, COMSTOCK came into the baited area, released his hunting dogs, and then left. Approximately a half hour later the dogs signaled that they had treed the bear. The officers then heard a gunshot and the dogs became quiet. Over the next hour COMSTOCK was observed leaving and entering his residential property. Finally, COMSTOCK drove a pick-up truck back to his house with a passenger.
An officer approached the vehicle to speak with COMSTOCK. Removed from the back of the truck was a stolen, loaded Remington 870, 12-gauge shotgun that smelled as if it had recently been fired. The following day, officers located a dead bear in the woods. They recovered a slug, which matched the ones from the shotgun retrieved from the truck driven by COMSTOCK the day previously. Two members of COMSTOCK’s hunting party that day also testified that they saw him take the gun into the words to shoot the bear.
COMSTOCK’s previous convictions include Assault with a Deadly Weapon with Intent to Kill, Discharging Firearm into Occupied Dwelling, and Possession of a Firearm by a Felon.
Investigation of the case was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission and the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney David Bragdon served as prosecutor for the government.
News releases are available on the U. S. Attorney’s web page at www.usdoj.gov/usao/nce within 48 hours of release.