Billy Powell. age 77, of Cherokee County pleaded guilty earlier this week to the felony offense of smuggling at least 37 whitetail deer, over a three year period from Indiana, Illinois and Ohio into Texas in violation of state and federal laws.
The guilty plea was announced by U. S. Attorney John M. Bales on Monday.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office spent four years investigating Powell who not only pleaded guilty to the smuggling offenses, but also admitted to have lied about his activities to a U. S. Fish and Wildlife agent who was investigating the matter.
Powell has agreed to pay a $1 million fine, to be deposited into the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Lacy Act Reward Fund, as well as a half-million dollars in restitution to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on his sentencing date.
Powell’s pact with the government calls for him to serve three years probation with six months of home confinement which will be monitored wit an electric anklet.
During his probation, Powell will be banned from participating in any manner in commercial deer breeding.
Additionally, Powell must forfeit any illegally imported deer, any progeny of those deer and any biological material derived from said deer which would include any semen, antlers, mounts and cloned deer.
Powell has already given up over 1,300 straws of frozen deer semen, valued at approximately $961,500, to the U. S. Fish and Wildlife.
According to information presented in court, on at lest four occasions from October 2006 through June 2008, Powell knowingly imported at least 37 live whitetail deer, many of whom came from captive deer farms in Ligonier, Ind. into the state of Texas and to his 5-P Farms, a high-fenced deer breeding facility located on U. S. Highway 79 North near New Summerfield.
Powell acknowledged that the fair market value of all of the illegally imported whitetail deer exceeded approximately $800,000 and that the value of the illegally accumulated whitetail deer semen exceeded approximately $961,000 while the value of the progeny exceeded an estimated $290,000.
Texas restricts deer imports because of the threat of spreading or introducing diseases into the state’s game population.
The case was investigated by its Special Operations Unit of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Jim Noble.