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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Jersey

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Trophy Hunter Admits Illegally Killing Black Bear In New Jersey And Staging Fake Kill Site In New York To Conceal Crime

NEWARK, N.J. – A Ringwood, New Jersey, man today admitted transporting an American black bear he illegally killed in New Jersey across state lines to New York, and covering up the crime by creating false records and staging a fake kill site, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Martin Kaszycki, 36, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Leda D. Wettre in Newark federal court to an information charging him with two counts of violating the Lacey Act by transporting a bear he had illegally killed in Newfoundland, New Jersey, to Sterling State Forest in New York, and covering up the crime by making false statements and staging a fake kill site.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

On Oct. 5, 2012, Kaszycki killed a 450-pound, male, America black bear from an elevated tree stand, with a bow and arrow, out of hunting season, after setting out bait for the bear within 300 feet of the stand near his place of business in Newfoundland, all in violation of New Jersey state laws. He then drove the bear across state lines to New York, where he falsely told a New York weigh station employee that he had killed the bear in New York’s Sterling State Forest, causing the employee to record the false information on a New York state Bear Data Form.

On Oct. 8, 2012, Kaszycki drove the hide and skull of the bear to a taxidermy shop in Pennsylvania to arrange for the parts to be mounted for a trophy display and falsely represented to a taxidermist that he had hunted the bear in New York, causing the taxidermist to record that information on a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Taxidermist Bear Report.

When N.J. Division of Fish and Wildlife Officers confronted Kaszycki about the bear on Oct. 10, 2012, at his place of business, Kaszycki told them he had killed the bear in New York. Later that night, Kaszycki drove the guts of the bear to Sterling State Forest in New York, where he placed them in the woods to stage a fake kill site. When confronted again the next day by state officials about the bear, he led those officials to the staged kill site and told them it was the location where he had killed the bear.

The Lacey Act prohibits the interstate transport of wildlife taken or possessed in violation of any state law or regulation as well as the making of a false record for wildlife that has been or is intended to be transported in interstate commerce. New Jersey state laws prohibit the hunting of an American black bear out of season. New Jersey laws also prohibit the hunting of these bears while elevated in a standing tree within 300 feet of a baited area or with a bow and arrow.                               

As part of his plea agreement, Kaszycki must pay a fine of $5,000 to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Lacey Act Reward Fund. He must also forfeit the skull and hide of the bear and pay $1,250 to the Woodlands Wildlife Refuge for the care and release of orphaned and injured American black bears in New Jersey.

The charge to which Kaszycki pleaded guilty carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine. He was released on unsecured $10,000 bond with the condition that he surrender his hunting license and refrain from hunting pending his sentencing hearing, which is currently scheduled for Feb 17, 2016.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement, under the direction Resident Agent in Charge Preston Fant, as well as the N.J. Division of Fish and Wildlife, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathleen P. O’Leary of the U.S. Attorney's Office Health Care and Government Fraud Unit in Newark.

Defense counsel: Peter L. Festa Esq., Paterson, New Jersey

Updated November 12, 2015