Waterfowl hunting guide Jeff Foiles of Illinois has pleaded guilty to charges arising from the illegal sale of guided waterfowl hunts, the U.S. Department of Justice said.
Foiles in recent years has appeared at Game Fair in Anoka, where he sells duck and goose calls and various waterfowl hunting memorabilia.
According to investigators with the U.S.Fish and Wildlife Service:
Foiles, 54, of Pleasant Hill, Ill., pleaded guilty to an information charging him with one misdemeanor count of unlawful sale of wildlife in violation of the Lacey Act, as well as one misdemeanor count of unlawfully taking migratory game birds in violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
At the same time, the company that operates Foiles’ hunting club, the Fallin’ Skies Strait Meat Duck Club LLC, located in Pike County, Ill., pleaded guilty to an information charging it with one felony count of unlawful sale of wildlife in violation of the Lacey Act and one felony count of making false writings in a matter within the jurisdiction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Lacey Act is a federal law that makes it illegal to knowingly transport or sell wildlife taken in violation of federal law or regulation. The act defines the sale of wildlife to include the sale of guiding services for the illegal taking of wildlife.
“The case had more to do with greed than hunting,” said USFWS resident agent in charge for Illinois and Missouri Tim Santel. “When you look at the totality of the crimes, the case was more about commercializing wildlife for private gain then the art of hunting.''
According to the plea agreements filed in court Thursday, between 2003 and 2007, Foiles sold and guided waterfowl hunts at the club for the purpose of illegally hunting ducks and geese in excess of hunters’ individual daily bag limits. Guided hunters paid $250 per day for hunts at the club. Foiles and others at the club also falsified hunting records in order to conceal the excesses.
The maximum penalty for a felony violation of the Lacey Act or the federal false writing statute includes up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
According to the plea agreements, the government and the defendants have jointly asked the court to sentence Foiles to 13 months in prison, to be followed by one year of supervised release during which time he may not hunt or guide hunters, and to pay a $100,000 fine for which Fallin’ Skies Strait Meat Duck Club LLC agreed to serve as guarantor.
Further, Foiles agreed to one additional year, following completion of his term of supervised release, during which he will not hunt or guide.
The court will determine whether to accept the plea agreements. If they are accepted, the government has agreed to dismiss the pending felony indictment against Foiles.
The sentencing hearing for Foiles is set for Sept. 21, 2011. The sentencing hearing for Fallin’ Skies Strait Meat Duck Club LLC is scheduled for Oct. 27.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, in cooperation with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and the government of Canada. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of Illinois and the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section.