Arrests made in deer case; Sturgeon license and permit fraud uncovered
SPRINGFIELD, IL –Illinois Conservation Police Chief of Law Enforcement Rafael Gutierrez announced that investigations into two significant central Illinois wildlife and fish cases have reached conclusions this week.
“Our Conservation Police Officers are working diligently to protect Illinois’ valuable natural resources,” Gutierrez said. “These investigations can sometimes take months or years, but our Conservation Police Officers will not stop until violators are brought to justice.”
Two arrested for deer violations
Illinois Conservation Police have arrested two individuals for multiple wildlife violations after the men allegedly tried to spotlight a deer and shoot it from the roadway at night in 2012. The arrests were made after an investigation that lasted almost 18 months.
Alexander Bonelli-Nirider, 22, of Rantoul and Evan Spurlock, 22, of Armstrong were charged with 10 misdemeanor wildlife violations, including hunting by aid or use of a motor vehicle, discharging a firearm from the roadway, and attempting to take a deer after hunting hours. The incident occurred at the Middle Fork Forest Preserve in northeast Champaign County in November 2012.
An Illinois Conservation Police Officer on patrol that night witnessed the event, but the subjects fled, traveling across a field and through timber at a high rate of speed. Charges of fleeing to elude are still pending review with the Champaign County State’s Attorney’s Office.
Roe Harvester License Fraud
Marsha Phelps of Saverton, Missouri was arrested April 2, 2014 after an investigation revealed she allegedly committed license and permit fraud to avoid paying the much higher non-resident fees for permits to harvest sturgeon eggs known as roe.
Phelps admitted falsely claiming Illinois resident status to obtain a sturgeon roe harvesting permit. Phelps spent a total of $1,180.00 for licenses from 2010-2013 after falsely claiming she was an Illinois resident. She should have paid a total of $14,781.50 for the licenses as a non-resident. Phelps’s roe harvest reports from 2010-2013 indicate she sold a total of $28,370.00 in sturgeon roe.
The Illinois Conservation Police charged her with 11 counts of falsifying commercial roe harvester reports, five counts of fraudulently obtaining commercial device tags, two counts of fraudulently obtaining resident roe harvester permits, two counts of fraudulently obtaining resident commercial fishing licenses, 57 counts of unlawful commercialization of sturgeon roe, and one count of fraudulently obtaining a resident sport fishing license. These charges were for violations occurring in 2012 and 2013 in Pike and Sangamon counties in Illinois.
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