According to court documents, Benjamin Chason and co-conspirator Donald W. Wainwright Sr., trafficked in live white-tailed deer. Wainwright, Sr. owned hunting preserves in Logan County, Ohio, and Live Oak, Florida. Wainwright, Sr. illegally shipped deer to Florida from Ohio and attempted to ship deer to Georgia from Ohio. These deer were not certified as disease-free.
The attempted shipment to Georgia was intercepted by an ODNR officer when he saw noeses and antlers sticking out of a cargo trailer. Wainwright Sr. had placed a federal identification tag from a deer that had died into a deer being shipped. They then sold semen around the United States.
In 2014 Chason was charged with violating 3 counts of the Lacy act and fined 1.6 million dollars. Of the $1.6 million, $600,000 is to be paid into the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Habitat Fund $200,000 to the Federal Endangered Species and Wildlife Diversity Fund, $400,000 to Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks and $100,000 to the Ohio DNR Division of Wildlife Turn in a Poacher (TIP) program.
Wainwright, Sr. pleaded guilty in 2015, to 12 charges related to violating the Lacey Act, one count of conspiracy and one count of wire fraud. He was fined $125,000 and got 21 months in prison! He also had to do 200 hours of community service in Ohio or Georgia state parks.
“Illegal sale and transport of white-tailed deer are serious crimes, and I appreciate the teamwork and cooperation between all of the agencies involved to help obtain these convictions.” ODNR Division of Wildlife Chief Scott Zody said.
“We are pleased to see the positive results in this investigation. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement considers the potential spread of disease caused by the illegal commercialization of fish and wildlife resources a high priority, and we will continue to work closely with our State partners to assist them in these important investigations.” said Edward Grace, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Deputy Assistant Director for Law Enforcement.
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