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May 17, 2012

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Illegal Possession of Bald Eagle Leads to Return of Federal Indictment

VICTORIA, Texas - Sam Mathew, 53, of Missouri City, Texas, has been indicted by a federal grand jury of illegally possessing a bald eagle, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today.

The indictment returned just moments ago in Victoria, Texas, alleges Mathew possessed a migratory nongame bird, that is, one Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) on or about Feb. 29, 2012, in violation of The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA).        

The MBTA provides protection for Migratory Birds. The MBTA prohibits to Apursue, hunt, take, capture or kill, attempt to take, capture or kill,  possess, offer for sale, sell, offer to purchase, purchase, deliver for shipment, ship, cause to be shipped, deliver for transportation, transport, cause to be transported, carry, or cause to be carried by any means whatever, receive for shipment, transportation or carriage, or export, at any time, or in any manner, any migratory bird, included in the terms of this Convention . . . for the protection of migratory birds . . . or any par, nest, or egg of any such bird.@ The bald eagle is a non-game migratory bird as defined in Title 50, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 10.13.

Mathew is expected to turn himself in to federal authorities and make an initial appearance before a U.S. magistrate judge in the near future. If convicted, Mathew faces a possible $15,000 fine and/or a six-month-term in federal prison. 

The case was investigated by agents from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Hugo R. Martinez.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.