In Maine, no real deterrent for poaching

The Maine Warden Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services and the Pennsylvania Game Commission conducted an intensive four-month investigation into poaching activities in Maine and Pennsylvania in the fall of 2010, resulting in criminal charges filed against six people.

During the course of that investigation, officers documented as many as 400 crimes committed in the killing of as many as 30 deer in north-central Pennsylvania and dozens more in Turner, Leeds and Auburn.

This was a fit of pure butchery.

These guys weren’t “hunting.” They were using vehicles at night to drive deer to kill. And, while some of the meat was harvested for consumption, most of it was not.

This was, pure and simple, a well planned “thrill of the kill” slaughter in which one of the poachers — former police chief Everett H. Leonard of Turner — boasted of his transformation from law enforcer to law breaker.

Now, two years later, after federal and state agencies spent hundreds of man hours and thousands of dollars on the investigation and state courts spent additional hours and money to prosecute these poachers, all of them have pleaded guilty to a small fraction of the crimes and nearly all have been sentenced for their part in the killings.

In total, these six poachers will collectively spend as few as 122 days in jail and will pay as little as $20,200 in fines for the deliberate and illegal killing of more than 50 deer in a spree that spanned two states.

Curiously, the only juvenile involved here appears to have been disproportionately punished, burdened with a $7,000 fine compared to the ringleader’s $2,300 fine.

This is justice?

Or, is this a reflection of how low our society values game crimes in a state that is financially dependent on protecting and preserving natural resources in order to attract visitors, including lawful hunting parties.

We spent an awful lot of time and money, and put game wardens in personal danger, to investigate and prosecute hundreds of crimes for such a minor return on those efforts.

Here’s the breakdown:

A 17-year-old Greene boy, charged with crimes in Maine and Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty to all charges and was sentenced to pay nearly $7,000 in fines. (The boy’s name is confidential under state laws.)

In August 2011, Lucien Clavet of Monmouth, charged only with crimes in Pennsylvania, was sentenced to 18 months of probation and fines totaling $1,800 for guilty pleas to eight crimes. He is barred from applying for a Pennsylvania hunting license while on probation.

Carlton John Enos of Turner was sentenced to seven days in jail and fined $4,850 after pleading guilty to five charges in Maine. He will be allowed to pay $100 a month until the fine is satisfied, which will be some time in 2016.

Jason Clifford, charged only with crimes in Maine, pleaded guilty to five misdemeanor charges and was fined $4,250.

Everett Tyler Leonard of Turner pleaded guilty last year to 11 illegal killings and 14 other game offenses in Pennsylvania. He was sentenced to 3 1/2 to 14 months in prison plus 18 months probation and fined as part of a plea deal. Had he gone to trial, he could have faced up to 88 years in jail and $414,800 in fines. He has not yet answered to the Maine charges but, if convicted on all counts, he could face as much as 43.5 years in jail and $61,000 in fines. However, given previous sentences in this case, we highly doubt his punishment will come anywhere close to these maximums.

And, finally, Everett H. “Lenny” Leonard — the former police chief and self-appointed ringleader of this little band of poachers — was sentenced to serve between 15 and 60 days, plus 18 months of probation and a $2,300 fine, for crimes committed in Pennsylvania. He had been facing up to 54 years and $255,300 in fines there.

On Wednesday, he was sentenced to three years in jail — all time suspended — for poaching and drug crimes committed in Maine.

He had been facing up to 42 years in jail and $84,000 in fines here. Instead, he serves no jail time at all because he has been deemed too sick to be jailed.

None.

So, two years after state and federal game officials investigated what a Pennsylvania official called "one of the most egregious" hunting-related criminal cases in that region, justice has been served.

Or has it?

Do we have here, instead of justice, a slap on the wrist for these poachers and a slap in the face of investigators and prosecutors, and of taxpayers who funded their work?

In the future, if we are to continue pursuing these cases, the punishments must reflect the harm done. If not, then why are we — as a state burdened with high government costs — investing so much for so little return?

What’s the deterrent for poaching if, in the end, these crooks receive ridiculously little punishment for slaughtering Maine resources?

jmeyer@sunjournal.com

The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and the editorial board.

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Comments

Catherine Pressey's picture

17 year old

I hope the parents of the 17 year old file a suit against The leader of the pack. Former Police Chief Leonard, (Lenny) If he furnished booze to a minor what is the punishment for that? He led a teenager to commit a crime, I urge the parents to file papers agaist him. Make him pay for that, that he thinks is and was fun. Sure seems it when he got of with a slap and an pat. The slap for the crime and the pat. for the poor sick man.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

1. Four hundred crimes

1. Four hundred crimes committed for killing 30 deer? While I’m not trying to defend these individuals, something is amiss in these numbers, perhaps there are too many laws on the books.

2. Up to 88 years in prison for killing 30 deer? You can spend less time for committing crimes against a person.

My takeaway is that the legal system is structured to force people into a plea bargain, perhaps to save money. That is, front-load the armament with 400 charges, many not necessary, to scare individuals into a plea bargain.

All that said, an outside observer should not look at the sum of all charges as a measure of justice or injustice because it is unlikely they will be convicted of all charges in a trial. Moreover, many of the charges are superfluous and kind of like throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks.

Catherine Pressey's picture

Four hundred crimes/Mark Gravel

Hello Mark first of all 30 deer or one, is one to many it is not the deer it is the crime that counts it is the kind of men or boys that follow these men that are at issue. If the law allows even one man to get away with this kind of thing as he leads the 17 year old down the wrong path. We as a society need to do better than plea out a crime for the leader of the group. This person should carry the most cost, and especially one that was a former so call Police chief. I personally believe that the judge and the prosecutors have failed the system. And yes this system is flawed to say the least, and these are the same kind of men that would take teenagers out into gravel pits and have their gangs beat them up. These so call former Police Chiefs, oh now he is not well, to what should that matter. The man was well enough to travel between PA and Me. To do his crimes it is just to bad that everyone can use the excuse that it is the system. NOT the system it is the good old boys syndrome that allows this to happen. If he the leader Mr. Leonard was just anyone they would lock him up just like anyone else. Look the 17 year old got a huge fine in comparison to the Leader of the pack. You say your not justifying this I beg to argue that point, you say 30 deer your have missed the whole point. We have to take a stand someplace and it should have been with these or this gang. Blatantly traveling from one state to another, for you see Mr. Leonard new he would get off, he had that in the bag. All the money that was spent went on deaf ears, and is like taking a peeee into the wind. Why should we bother to enforce anything at all. I bet there were lots of reasons this man got off, like people being afraid of him. And they should be, because from my own experience with him, you better watch your back. Now if he is sick and on maybe a death bed illness I will rejoice that my God will deal with him in the end.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Sentences are fair when put

Sentences are fair when put into perspective relative to other crimes and punishment. Being an outside observers, our response is based more on emotion than standard sentences in similar cases. There is really not that much difference in punishment between both ends of the spectrum. Perhaps the difference has more to do with the Attorney than the individual.

Catherine Pressey's picture

Perhaps the difference:

Mark Gravel, what planet are you on, the one I live on many sentences are not fair, and people that do crimes, unless they are special with the good old boy syndrome and the fact that like comments about the attorney being the poachers best friend. When put into relative crimes and punishments the courts for the most part do not consider the heath of the person, they consider the egreousness of the crimes. No doubt that Lenny's wife pleaded for her poor husband, and for some reason it worked, he was the Leader and clearly the bulk of the planing and the underhanded crime spree came from his direction. He got off way to easy and like other cases he should have to pay a fine that benefits the tax payers. Period. What a joke, and what a waist of time our Game Wardens worked so hard on this case. Do you know that this man applied for a job years ago to be a game Warden if others do not know it. Rumor mill said that he had to take a lie detector test to become a game Warden and he failed. This was right after he left or was leaving his job as Police Chief. THAT SURE WOULD HAVE BEEN THE FOX GUARDING THE CHICKEN COUP. My opinon is the good old boys get off, and the others get the punishments. You see you say Perhaps the Attorney has more to do with it. I say the money he is hinding and the money he may have made is a well kept secret. What does one do with all that deer meat. Think justice was served. I do not!

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Lots of accusations - all

Lots of accusations - all that I can say is that this sounds personal. What is your relationship to Lenny?

Catherine Pressey's picture

Lenny you sound like he is your friend.

What are you saying that the Game Wardens just made accusations, are you saying this man is a nice law abiding citizen. You want to know what my relationship to Lenny was. A tax payer of the town of Mechanic Falls in his years. and I know plenty about how he operated. That is my opinion you can call it personal, you just have to remember that with Lenny he does get even and will do anything he can to make someone pay. Someone that may stand up to him will pay dearly. But God will take care of him and sounds like he is getting what he deserves with what ever illness he has. Thankfully my God is the one to punish those that do bad stuff, to good people and animals.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

I don't know Lenny. That

I don't know Lenny. That said, you seem to be disproportionately engaged in this topic.

Catherine Pressey's picture

Your disproportionately uninformed on the mind of a criminal

Mark, for what he as Chief of Police with his gang of jury’s, put me and my family through, I assure you that none of my engaged opinion is out of line. He turned a group of teenagers loose with guns during hunting season. and they came onto my land, where my son young teen son saw them and told them to stay off our land. They pointed a gun at my son, Now these were the gang that also made obscene phone calls to my home, both when I was home and when my daughter was at home and much to my horror received many of these calls. They were traced to the home of his very good friend the mother of the teen boy and their friends. No charges were ever brought because of the relationship, he and the lady maintained. My son was routinely tormented and harassed both at home and at school by the older teens. No I am not going to go into all that that criminal did to us. Dead White rabbits stuffed in our Mail box. Kids screaming on the police megaphone in the middle of the night. The ladies dogs tried to kill our cat and when the dog officer called on her. The lady screamed to get him fired, and then a person who dogs were killing cats in the neighborhood and our ducks, now with Lenny's help became our new dog officer. Thus they started to tie dogs out in the field, that had no shelter or water. Making them bark all night, out of thirst and because the lady had a female in heat. When the dogs came to their end of the amount of days the state would pay and they then could be killed. Lenny just took them out on her back field and shot them. And thru them in a pit. My horses were turned loose, we has a vehicle cut cookies in our door yard while someone yelled on a megaphone. Both the rabbit, and the phone called were found to be from that house, never anything done. Because during that time with the barking dogs we went to the town council to complain, and that is where we were threatened very agressively by Lenny's who stood up and pointed at my husband and said that we had better be afraid of him and my nieve husband said that we were not afraid of him, thus within seven days our vehicle was totaled in our yard by trappers lour, skunk sense. And Lenny was a trapper on the side, how interesting. The council was notified about the vehicle. Whereby I was taken asside and told that they the council believed he had something to do with it. And I was told that they suggested he find a new line of work. We then were down to one vehicle, my Ford truck we began parking it right under a flood light, right next to the window and the house. Within weeks my dogs started to bark, and I observed out the window someone tring to get into the engine. We flew down the stairs and I had my husband call the YEP Police. I took hold of my Great Dane dog, steped out and said what do you think you are doing, oh he said I will just mosey on. I said no you won't the police are coming and when the officer came, who was one of Lenny's deputies stepped up and shook the guys hand. Now this was after we questioned him, he came here from up at Lenny's lady friends with the dogs. He said that he bought booze for the kids up the street, and they gave him money to come here and do something to our vehicle. No charges were filed in that case either, NO MARK NOT DISPROPORTIONATELY INTERESTED. What I have written is only a drop in the bucket to what we went thru. Due to Lenny brand of law, so just because this is the only time Lenny's got caught and finally got charged with something. LONG OVERDUE, I only wish that we had, had the money to pay attorney's to sue the town and the police. Most of which was documented, all in all Lenny move on and he did try to become a Game Warden was not just a rumor in town. Funny he did not get hired, maybe his deeds kept him off from the record, not being acceptable. I WILL HAVE NO MORE TO SAY IN THIS MATTER. JUST SAD THAT HE GOT OFF EASY BECAUSE HE IS ILL. AS WELL AS A GOOD ATTORNEY, MAYBE THE HAND OF PROVIDENCE IN ACTION. That is my opinion they say what goes around comes around. Just to bad it did not hit him harder. But in the end he has got to face God himself. I trust in that for sure. Thankfully for him Jesus died for our sins, and may save him once again.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

All very

All very interesting.

www.supercircuits.com

The following web-site sells video surveillance equipment. If you are on a tight budget I found that a strategically placed sign or two indicating your property is under video surveillance or a couple of visible dummy cameras works as a good deterrent. Please check local laws, if any, preventing you from recording public property or private property not your own.

That said, I had similar circumstance, not nearly as excessive, with a retired law enforcement officer. A picture is worth a thousand words. In your case, if you had video evidence, you could have escalated to an FBI complaint or small claims court to recover minor property damage. Recorded video is hard to dismiss - technology is great.

AL PELLETIER's picture

I've heard it before, now I believe it!

Attorney William (Bill) Cote is a poachers best friend.

Catherine Pressey's picture

Poachers best friend

Not the poachers best friend the ones with the most money and the most to loose, the one that they might not want to send to prison for fear that they would be beat up by someone that the put in jail as a Chief of police. Attorney Cote probably got paid by the hard earned money from the deer meat sold for years. Or you and I paid him, attorney's just do as good a job as the DA that want to prosecute the crime. Looks to me that they just can not see their asses from their faces, in this matter, bottom line a poacher is and does not just kill during hunting season. They can and do kill anytime that makes them a danger to society and anyone that loves to hike or bike trails in this or any state. Sad state of affairs that Attorney's when paid enough can make a huge crime sound like a pea. And the DA's have forgotten why they are doing the job.

AL PELLETIER's picture

Well said

Catherine.

Steve  Dosh's picture

In Maine, no real deterrent for poaching

Ladies & Robert 12.02.12 21:50 hst ?
You pretty much covered the waterfront on this issue . In a larger sense , ? 186,000,000 guns , ? 300,000,000 people . When is enough , enough ? Poor Bambi and Rudolph . We support the Jim Brady Bill and right to arm bears ? /s , Santa's helpers . ...

Catherine Pressey's picture

The Judges:

After reading the other comments about this story, I believe that the news paper should print the story and tell the whole story who the Judge was and who the Prosecutors that send these crimes to the Judges and can not see the bigger picture here. I think the news paper should tell us who the Judge was and who the Prosecutor or Assistant Prosecutor were in the case so we can make sure that the District Attorney office has people working there that will not bow under to excuses about that the Ex Police Chief Everett Leonard in not well. Oh is he under stress now, what he reaped he should have to sew. Same with the Judge in the matter if they can not send the message in this case that hunting is no laughing matter, these men carry guns into the woods guns can kill, in the wrong hands. And in this case the criminal hands that just got slapped. I ASK THE NEWS PAPER AS A TAX PAYOR FOR THE NAMES OF THE JUDGE AND THE NAMES OF THE PROSECTORS THAT MADE HIS PLEA AGREEMENT. We the people want to know who not to Vote in we do vote in our DA for sure, that is all. Good gosh people, unfair I like to know what has happened of just the regular person in this case. AND NOT A FORMER COP, CHIEF OF POLICE. THINK SOME INVESIGATION IS IN ORDER, HERE. And I think the family of the teenager should sue Everett Leonard for leading to the crimes. Much like the OUI leading a kid down the wrong path.

Catherine Pressey's picture

Everett (Lenny) Leonard

Boy the good old boy syndrome is at work here. So this man was the ring Leader of the band, and all he got is a was sentenced to serve between 15 and 60 days, plus 18 months of probation and a $2,300 fine, for crimes committed in Pennsylvania. He had been facing up to 54 years and $255,300 in fines there. It would seem that the courts are no better than the country. Fines should be high enough to pay for the cost of all the pay checks gas cost hours and hours of the whole investigation. WOW! Lets just say that Lenny was a crook in the day, and was rumored to be involved with a guy while Chief, in a hunting poaching issue that made the paper. He also was the ring leader for a group of teenagers that terrorized my home and kids. Such things as making threats toward my husband and myself, in front of the town Council. Than withing seven days our vehicle was totaled in our yard by trappers lour, Skunk sent. That was the beginning of his down fall as police Chief. And now, oh he is sick or something my heart does not bleed for him. The terror that my family endured long ago still stays with us. He should not have gotton off so easy, I am not surprised at all, givin the old good old boy logic. What kind of business are these states running heck this man even smoked pot long ago while Chief. Now drugs being involved. I can give names of persons that witnessed his activity. Long ago! Heck no wonder the Taxes are so high when some get into trouble and are truely guilty of a crime and they get a slap on the hand and a pat on the back, because they are not well. Where and why does that matter, they do not care about that in other situations. I ASK WHY THEY ARE NOT PAYING FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES TO PAY FOR THE CRIMES THAT THEY COMMITTED TO THE ANIMALS AND TO THE TAX PAYORS. Everett (Lenny) Leonard should loose his shirt and loose all he and his wife owns. To pay for his crimes, maybe the state should sue, in civil court for the cost. Maybe we should ask ourselves what has our country come to, that the criminals plea deal and the DA goes along with it. THIS IS NOT GOOD BUSINESS AND THIS IS NOT FAIR AND JUST. CIVIL COURTS LIKE THE STATE OF FLORIDA IS GOING AFTER CASSIE ANTHONY. THE STATES SHOULD GO AFTER THE MONEY. THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN LOCKED UP FOR AS LONG AS SOMEONE THAT KILLS, STEALS AND PILLEGES THE LAND. AND BRAGS MUCH LIKE HE (LENNY) DID IN THE SO CALLED CHIEF DAYS. HE WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR OUR VEHICLE BEING TOTALED AND I BET THE BOYS Now men. INVOLVED WOULD NOW COME CLEAN IF QUESTIONED. In the day all he got was to bow out of his job gracefully. Gracefully crap the Criminal poacher, gang leader. Nothing changed guess, it never will, with the good old boys having the money and the right legal teams. They can do no wrong. Just my opinion for sure. I GOT YOUR NUMBER LENNY, YOUR ONE OF THOSE A-HOLES. CRIMINALS TOO!

Dorothea Witham's picture

What About Non-Poachers

This is a slap in the face to all the ethical hunters who follow all the game laws, sometime even passing on a chance to get their deer, because of their ethics. Why is it that though's who do things legally always see the criminals suffer no consequences.

I think that the Laws need to be revised.

Dorothea Witham's picture

This story really breaks my heart. Poaching is illegal!

This story really makes me mad. Why should people who do poaching get away with it, with plea bargains and stuff. They should not be allowed to make bargains for a lighter sentence.

I agree that the judges who accepted them and did the sentencing should be exposed. Their names should be mad public so that people will know exactly what kind of judge they are. Easy I would presume. One that people will want to go in front of so they too can get light sentencing.

The Police chief that was caught as the ring leader for some of these poaches, should do some time in jail. The fact that they say he is too sick to be in jail I believe is just because he was a Police Chief and he can get away with it. What a great example of how much slack is in our law enforcement services.

I just hope that this story doesn't discourage the great Game Wardens from doing their job. We need to be able to try and get as many people who do not follow the law, so they can get punished. Maybe with the facts of this story, there will be more investigations and hopefully new laws that are stricter put in place. One can only wish that it will happen.

Best luck to all those hard working Wardens. Don't give up.

 's picture

These paltry sentences have

These paltry sentences have little bearing on how society feels about these poachers. Most folks I've talked with would toss these slobs in the slammer and leave them there. Who were the judges sitting on these cases? Perhaps they need to be investigated as well. At the very least, their names should have been printed in this article so we would know who set such trivial sentences for such wonton criminal behavior. This is insulting to both our fine warden service and those law abiding Maine hunters whose blood pressure must have climbed as high as mine did, reading this article. Who were the judges responsible for letting these crimes go largely unpunished, and what was their reasoning? Perhaps the Sun Journal should do a follow up article?

 's picture

No deterrement for poaching

I was appalled to see the photo on the front page of the paper and the story about this poacher from Turner. What a shame he doesn't have to pay for his crime to wildlife and more. That is a slap in the face to those poor game wardens who spent hours working on this case. Just makes you want to be a warden, NOT. Wildlife and law enforcement deserve to be treated better than this. This man is probably out bragging about how he got off and now doing the same thing. This is the wrong lesson to put out there for society. It seems that money talks, as the saying goes. Shame on all of us for allowing this !!!!!!

Robert McQueeney's picture

I'm just a bit Cynical

But after reading this article, how can anyone expect there to be any real deterrent to this crime. Might just as well make it legal. We have wardens investigating armed men, out in the woods, who are getting a thrill out of killing, and investing how much money and how many hours? For the judges to grant such plea bargains?

My hat is off to the wardens, but I'm wondering about those who arranged the plea bargains. This is a perfect example as to why their are mandatory sentencing guidelines.

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