Florida Couple Pleads Guilty to Scheme to Evade $42 Million in Duties for Illegally Importing and Selling Plywood
WASHINGTON – Allan Wright, 45, of Russellville, Ohio, pleaded guilty today in federal court in Cincinnati to violating the Lacey Act by trafficking in and making false records for illegally harvested white-tailed deer, the Department of Justice announced. Wright committed the Lacey Act crimes while he was employed as a wildlife officer for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Wright’s employment as a wildlife officer was terminated after he was indicted in August 2011. As part of his plea agreement, Wright has agreed not to appeal his termination.
Among other things, t he Lacey Act makes it a crime for a person to knowingly transport or sell wildlife in interstate commerce when the wildlife was taken or possessed in violation of state law. The Lacey Act also makes it a crime for a person to knowingly make or submit a false record, account or label for wildlife that has been transported in interstate commerce. Wright pleaded guilty to a total of four Lacey Act crimes based on his conduct between 2006 and 2010.
As part his plea, Wright admitted that, using his authority as a wildlife officer, he sold a resident Ohio hunting license to a non-resident hunter in 2006. That hunter used the illegal Ohio resident hunting license to kill three white-tailed deer. As part of his plea, Wright admitted that he “checked in” those deer by providing a false Ohio residence address for the non-resident hunter in order to make it appear that the deer were killed by an Ohio resident. After the deer were checked in, the non-resident hunter transported them in interstate commerce from Ohio to South Carolina.
Also as part of his plea, Wright admitted that, using his authority as a wildlife officer, he seized white-tailed deer antlers from a hunter who had killed a deer illegally in 2009. Wright admitted that, rather than disposing of the antlers through court proceedings, as required by Ohio law, he knowingly supplied them to another individual who transported them from Ohio to Michigan. As part of his plea, Wright admitted that he filed an official state form, which falsely reported that he had personally destroyed those antlers.
Wright faces a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine per count. A date has not yet been set for Wright’s sentencing.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement. This case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney James B. Nelson of the Department of Justice’s Environmental Crimes Section of the Environment and Natural Resources Division.