GALLIPOLIS, Ohio (WCMH) – One of Ohio’s largest white-tailed deer commercialization cases, which spanned four counties and two states, is finally closed.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) closed its case against 14 individuals, who were charged with 122 counts of various felonies and misdemeanors, including engaging in a pattern of corrupt activities, grand theft, falsification, tampering with records, possession of untagged deer parts, hunting with an illegal implement and complicity to wildlife sales.
In total the defendants were ordered to pay $70,013.14 in fines and restitution, received hunting license revocations totaling 63 years and billed for an additional $6,700 in court costs. The maximum restitution to one individual was $20,000, followed by $13,000 to another while several defendants received extensive hunting license suspensions.
The investigation, which concluded in February 2020, focused primarily on A&E Deer Processing in Gallia County. It included five search warrants in Gallia County by Division of Wildlife officials, with additional warrants conducted in Pennsylvania by the PA Game Commission.
According to the ODNR, over 1,000 items were seized, including venison, venison processing equipment, deer harvest records, deer mounts and antlers and hunting implements. A stolen rifle, firearm suppressors and a moonshine still were also seized.
It was determined the operators of a deer processing business falsely game checked deer, created false deer harvest records, falsified deer tags, exceeded deer hunting limits and stole venison from customers who brought in deer for processing.
The stolen venison, estimated to total over 2,000 pounds during the time in question, was laundered into summer sausage that was sold for profit.