Six banned from hunting, hit with fines

By Patsy Brumfield / NEMS Daily Journal

GREENVILLE – Christopher R. Groner and Thomas A. Cobb won’t be hunting ducks or anything else for the next two years.
Monday, they and four others pleaded guilty to federal gaming violations for grossly exceeding bag limits during a January 2010 hunt in Tallahatchie County.
Groner and Cobb also were fined $10,000 each, put on two years of supervised probation and prohibited from going to any other hunting camps.
Interim U.S. Attorney John Dowdy of Jackson, from the Southern District of Mississippi, said Magistrate David Sanders’ sentences were strong warnings to anyone thinking about violating hunting laws.
“These sentences were appropriate under the circumstances and the facts of the case,” he said after the six Oxford men pleaded guilty before Sanders in Greenville.
The men had been under surveillance since four of them reportedly killed more than 100 ducks in a day during the 2008-09 hunting season, said Robert Olivari, resident agent for the U.S. Fish amp& Wildlife Service.
He said officials found a hunting camp log book with their personal notations that bragged about big, illegal daily duck kills.
Dowdy said federal investigators found 72 ducks, mostly mallards, with the men and another eight that had been disposed of when they realized game wardens were on to them. The daily limit is four each.
The six were charged with multiple violations in August. Monday, they each pleaded guilty to knowingly transporting migratory birds belonging to someone else and not properly tagged.
Groner and Cobb will be allowed to do maintenance at the camp they own, but only with permission from their probation officers, and they cannot stay while hunts are under way.
None of the others can hunt anything or go to any hunting camp during their probation.
The following defendants were sentenced by Sanders:
n Chad Russom and Robert Brian Jennings – $7,500 fine each, two years supervised probation.
n Edward Payton Connor – $6,500 fine, two years supervised probation.
n Jesse Steelman – $5,000 fine, one year supervised probation.
A seventh defendant, Danny Hipp, 34, pleaded guilty Nov. 15 and was fined $5,000 and put on one year supervised probation with the stipulation he not hunt anything during that time.
If they had been found guilty of all the charges, each faced up to six months in jail and up to $15,000 fine per charge.
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@journalinc.com.