Judge Sends 2 Men To Prison For Illegal Hunting

By: AP (Posted by Melissa Brunner)
By: AP (Posted by Melissa Brunner)

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A federal judge has sentenced two Texas brothers to prison for what prosecutors say may have been the largest deer poaching operation in Kansas history.

James Bobby Butler Jr. was the owner and operator of a hunting camp near Coldwater, where his brother, Marlin Jackson Butler, worked as a guide.

James Butler was sentenced Monday in Wichita to 10 months in prison and has already paid a $25,000 fine. Marlin Butler received an eight-month sentence with no fine.

The brothers, from Martinsville, Texas, pleaded guilty in 2011 to conspiring to violate a federal law prohibiting interstate transport of wildlife taken in violation of state regulations. James Butler also pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice.

An appeals court last year ordered new sentences after ruling the district court miscalculated their sentences.

Complete news release from U.S. Attorney's Office:
KANSAS CITY, KAN. - Two Texas men have been resentenced on Lacey Act charges of conspiracy, wildlife trafficking and obstruction of justice related to the sale of guided deer hunts in southern Kansas, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said today.

James Bobby Butler, Jr., 44, of Martinsville, Tex., was sentenced to 10 months in federal prison. Butler pleaded guilty in March 2011 to one count of conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act, one Lacey Act interstate trafficking count and one count of obstruction of justice.

His brother, Marlin Jackson Butler, 39, also of Martinsville, was sentenced to 8 months in federal prison. He pleaded guilty in March 2011 to one count of conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act and one Lacey Act interstate trafficking count.

The Lacey Act is a federal law that makes it illegal to knowingly transport or sell in interstate commerce any wildlife taken or possessed in violation of state law or regulation.

The Butlers ran a deer guiding operation near Coldwater, Kan. They sold guided deer hunts in Kansas to hunters from Texas and Louisiana, charging approximately $3,500 for archery hunts and $5,000 for rifle hunts. During those hunts, the Butlers transported clients to areas owned or leased by James Butler, where hunters were encouraged to kill deer illegally, in many cases without a license or permit.

In June 2011, James Butler was sentenced to 41 months in federal prison and Marlin Butler was sentenced to 27 months. They appealed their sentences to the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, which vacated the sentences and remanded the cases for resentencing.

Grissom commended the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Colin Black of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, Environmental Crimes Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Treaster for their work on the case.

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