Article Posted: January 30, 2002

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LANSING--Michigan Department of Natural Resources officials today
announced the sentencing of the final defendant in a nine-month
undercover operation conducted by the DNR Wildlife Resource Protection
Unit. The defendant, Tony Lee Linton, of Lachine, Mich., was sentenced
to one year in jail with credit for 28 days served, in the 82nd District
Court in Harrisville.

Linton originally was charged with killing a sow black bear and her two
cubs as they were hibernating in Alpena County in February 2001, then
selling the bears in Alcona County. In a plea bargain agreement, the
charges in Alpena County were dismissed, and Linton pleaded guilty to
conspiracy to sell three black bears, and the sale of three black bears
in Alcona County. As part of his jail sentence, Linton will serve 180
days, beginning immediately, with 157 days suspended upon successful
completion of a one-year probation. Monetary penalties of $11,330 also
were assessed, including $4,500 in liquidated damages. Linton's hunting,
fishing and trapping privileges in Michigan were suspended for 12

"The strong sentences in this case, including the lengthy suspension of
hunting privileges for two defendants, demonstrate that Michigan courts
take very seriously those who engage in the unlawful sale of our
wildlife resources," said DNR Law Enforcement Division Chief Richard

This investigation resulted in the arrest of five Michigan residents on
54 counts of illegally killing and selling protected Michigan wildlife,
including bear, bobcat, turkey and a badger. The Michigan Attorney
General's Office assisted in the prosecution of these subjects when
charges were simultaneously filed last April in District Court in
Harrisville, Alpena and Muskegon.

The following subjects previously were sentenced:

* David A. McDonald, of Almont, was sentenced to seven days in jail and
fined $3,933. His hunting privileges were suspended in Michigan for
three years.

* Kenneth E. Watson, of Westland, was sentenced to seven days in jail
and fined $3,708. His hunting privileges were suspended in Michigan for
three years.

* Lionel Jefferson, of Muskegon Heights, was sentenced to 200 hours of
community service and fined $4,390. His hunting privileges were
suspended in Michigan for three years.

* Daniel D. Vance, of Barton City, was sentenced to six months in jail
and fined $15,815. His hunting privileges were suspended in Michigan for
10 years.

According to the original tip received by a local conservation officer,
Vance and Linton were illegally hunting and killing bobcat, bear and
raccoon in Alcona, Alpena and Oscoda counties.

A Wildlife Resource Protection Unit detective then successfully
infiltrated the Vance-Linton operation through defendant Jefferson and
established a relationship with the two men that would allow the officer
to witness numerous illegal hunting trips and sales transactions over
the next eight months.

"The dedicated professionals working in our Wildlife Resource
Protection Unit have an outstanding track record in apprehending
individuals who poach for profit," Asher said. "It often is dangerous
work, and I commend these officers for their courageous performance."

Two freezers, two firearms and a four-wheel ORV also were seized and
condemned as a result of this investigation. Total monetary penalties
amounted to $39,176. Of these penalties, $12,700 was levied as
liquidated damages for the illegal killing of four black bears, five
bobcats, a turkey and a badger. This money will be directed to the state
Fish and Game Protection Fund.

The DNR Law Enforcement Division encourages any person with information
involving the illegal commercialization of fish and game to call the
toll-free Report All Poaching hotline at 800-292-7800.

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