Ten defendants were sentenced on Monday, June 10, in U.S. District Court in Bryson City for illegal hunting activities involving black bears and other wildlife and related offenses uncovered by "Operation Something Bruin," an initiative involving agencies of the federal government and wildlife agencies in North Carolina and Georgia.

Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, announced the sentences in a press conference last Friday.

 

This past February, state and federal wildlife officials in North Carolina and Georgia announced the results of a four-year undercover investigation focused on illegal activities involving black bears and other wildlife in North Carolina and Georgia. It resulted in more than 80 wildlife violators and over 980 violations including illegal bear hunting and poaching in North Carolina and Georgia, but also an array of state and federal wildlife and game law charges.

 

The following defendants were sentenced on June 10, 2013, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dennis L. Howell:

 

* Chad Burchfield, 34, of Robbinsville, pleaded guilty to one count of hunting feral swine at night. He was sentenced to 30 days in prison. In addition, Judge Howell revoked Burchfield's right to hunt or fish for a period of two years, and ordered the defendant to pay a $10.00 assessment fee and a $25.00 administrative fee.

 

* Patrick Burchfield, 24, of Robbinsville, pleaded guilty to one count of hunting feral swine at night. He was sentenced to 30 days in prison and ordered to pay a $10.00 assessment fee and a $25.00 administrative fee. In addition, the defendant's right to hunt or fish was revoked for a period of two years.

 

* Jessie Jenkins, 23, of Robbinsville, pleaded guilty to hunting feral swine at night. He was sentenced to 30 days in prison, was ordered to pay a $10.00 assessment fee and a $25.00 administrative fee and is prohibited from hunting or fishing for a period of two years.

 

* Kenneth Collins, 44, of Robbinsville, pleaded guilty to providing a hunting guide service on National Forest land without a permit. Judge Howell sentenced Collins to 30 days in prison. He was also ordered to pay a $10.00 special assessment fee, a $25.00 administrative fee and restitution of $450.00 to the U.S. Forest Service. Collins' hunting and fishing rights were also revoked for a period of two years.

 

* Casey Collins, 26 of Robbinsville, pleaded guilty to two counts of providing a hunting guide service on National Forest land without a permit. He was sentenced to 15 days in prison and was ordered to pay a $10.00 special assessment fee and a $25.00 administrative fee. His hunting and fishing rights were revoked for a period of two years.

 

* Michael Sellers, 20, of Robbinsville, pleaded guilty to one count of providing a hunting service without a permit. He was sentenced to one year of probation and was ordered to surrender his hunting license.  

* Ricky Owens, 48, of Robbinsville, pleaded guilty to one count of failure to obtain a special use permit needed to operate a commercial activity on National Forest land. He was sentenced to 15 days in prison and was ordered to pay a $10.00 special assessment fee and a $25.00 administrative fee.  

* Robert Watson, 46, of Morganton, pleaded guilty to one count of aid and abet the illegal taking of a black bear. He was sentenced to 30 days in prison and was ordered to pay a $10.00 special assessment fee and a $25.00 administrative fee.  

* Terry Ratliff, 55, of Opelica, Ala., was ordered to pay a collateral of $1,500 for driving on a closed U.S. Forest Service Road.   

* Brian Quacca, 41, of Groesbeck, Texas, pleaded guilty to one count of using the National Forest Service for commercial purposes without the required permit. On May 25, he was ordered to pay a fine in the amount of $1,500.00. In addition, he was ordered to pay a $10.00 special assessment fee and a $25.00 administrative fee.

 

On June 10, Brent Fox, of Morganton, entered a plea of guilty to one count of illegal taking of a black bear and is awaiting sentencing.

 

The defendants committed the offenses in the Nantahala National Forest, with the exception of Watson, who committed his offense in the Pisgah National Forest.