Willard Maldonado Pleads Guilty to Five Violations of the Bald Eagle Protection Act and the Lacey Act
Spokane – Michael C. Ormsby, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that Willard Phillip Maldonado entered guilty pleas to six criminal charges relating to the commercialization of eagles. Five of the charges are violations of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (16 U.S.C. § 668(a)) and one charge is a violation of the Lacey Act (16 U.S.C. §§ 3372(a)(1) and 3373(d)(1)(B). According to information disclosed during the proceeding, the crimes occurred over a period of more than two years -- from December 6, 2010 through January 27, 2014. The crimes involved the unlawful killing of bald and golden eagles and the offering for sale and the actual selling of their feathers.
As a member of the Yakama Indian Tribe, Maldonado can lawfully possess eagle feathers for non-commercial purposes. All members of federally recognized Indian tribes can obtain eagle feathers from a national repository maintained by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for that purpose. However, it is unlawful for anyone to offer eagle feathers for sale or to sell eagle feathers. As part of his Plea Agreement, Maldonado admitted that he unlawfully killed eagles and offered eagle feathers for sale through the use of social media.
Maldonado’s guilty pleas are the culmination of a lengthy investigation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Yakama Nation tribal authorities. The investigation identified people around the United States and in Canada who responded to solicitations made by Maldonado. The investigation followed other similar investigations in recent years that have led to similar convictions, including
United States v. Hawk, 09-CR-2034-EFS-1 and United States v. Wahchumwah, 09-CR-2035-EFS-1.
The sentencing hearing for Maldonado has been set for July 29, 2015 at 11:30 a.m. in Yakima, Washington before District Court Judge Salvador Mendoza, Jr.