Monterey couple sentenced for operating an illegal hunting guide service
ALEXANDRIA — United States Attorney David C. Joseph announced that a couple from Monterey was sentenced in federal court in Shreveport on July 23 to three years of federal probation for felony Lacey Act violations in relation to illegally operating a woodcock guide service on Richard K. Yancey Wildlife Management Area. The Suttons pleaded guilty on Aug. 19, 2019.
Senior U.S. District Judge Dee D. Drell ordered William K. Sutton, 66, to pay a fine in the amount of $5,000; Karen S. Sutton, 61, was ordered to pay a fine in the amount of $1,000. Additionally, Drell ordered the couple to pay restitution in the amount of $7,850 to the RKYWMA and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement.
The Suttons were named in a federal indictment for conspiracy and Lacey Act violations in March 2019 after agents with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service completed a successful criminal investigation of their Woodcock guide service. State Wildlife officers had cited William Sutton during the previous hunting season, but the Suttons continued their illicit activity. The investigation culminated with joint search warrant executions by federal and state wildlife agents at the Suttons’ residence and hunting lodge. The investigation yielded evidence indicating the Suttons had conducted approximately 82 illegal hunts over a two-year period netting an estimated monetary gain of over $100,000.
The Lacey Act is a comprehensive federal law that protects against wildlife crimes, such as international and domestic wildlife trafficking. The Act prohibits trade in wildlife, fish and plants that have been taken, possessed, transported or sold in violation of other federal, state or foreign laws.
United States Fish and Wildlife Service Acting Special Agent in Charge Stephen Clark stated, “We take our mission working with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the citizens of Louisiana in conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats very seriously. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement, considers the illegal commercialization of wildlife resources a high priority, and we will continue to work closely with our State partners to assist them in these important investigations.”
“This is a great example of federal and state agencies working together to protect Louisiana’s wonderful natural resources. This couple was stealing from the citizens of Louisiana and justice was served,” said Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Enforcement Division, Colonel Chad Hebert.
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian C. Flanagan prosecuted the case.