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Tuesday, October 18 • 1:00pm - 1:35pm
Law Enforcement. Illegal Taking of Alligators

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AUTHORS: Ranger 1st Class Jon Penuel/Cpl. Tony Cox, Georgia DNR Law Enforcement Division

ABSTRCT: In November of 2015, Ranger First Class Jon Penuel and Corporal Tony Cox began an investigation into the possible illegal taking of alligators during the 2015 Alligator Quota Season. They initially began their investigation in the Albany Region by checking harvest information sheets that hunters are required to complete when checking in their harvested alligator. They examined each harvest record sheet and checked each hunters name to ensure that they had purchased the correct licenses and had harvested the alligator in the correct zone for which they had been drawn. During their initial checks the Rangers identified approximately 10 violations out of the approximately 30 names that were checked.

As a result of these compliance checks, RFC Penuel and Cpl. Cox identified multiple license violations as well as multiple alligators which had been harvested in the wrong zone. After presenting their findings, the Rangers were directed to continue their investigation outside of the Albany Law Enforcement Region. With this directive, the Rangers gathered all the harvest information sheets, quota selection sheets, quota tag number lists and any other pertinent information available from the DNR State Alligator Program and began to manually check each harvest information form for compliance. RFC Penuel and Cpl. Cox completed these manual compliance checks over the following weeks by comparing each of the 300 plus harvest information sheets to the paper quota selection sheets and quota tag lists they had obtained.

As a result of these compliance checks, RFC Penuel and Cpl. Cox identified a violation rate of approximately ten (10) percent. The violations identified were hunting without licenses, taking alligators in the wrong zone and taking alligators without a permit (tag). Due to number of violations and the fact the violations were committed by subjects located throughout the state, the help of other Rangers around the state were enlisted to assist with the interviews.

As these statewide interviews were taking place, RFC Penuel and Cpl. Cox interviewed some of the local hunters that had been identified for being out of compliance. During these interviews, they identified a subject that had been possibly manipulating DNR’s online quota selection system. Through interviews with different subjects who had harvest information sheets filled out in their names, they identified that this subject was using other individuals’ personal information without their consent, to apply and in some cases be selected for an alligator permit (tag). Upon further investigation, it was found that this subject had been manipulating as many as twenty seven (27) different license accounts over multiple years in order to build up rejection points on each account, then apply and be selected for alligator permits (tags). The subject was able to list his personal email address in each license account which gave him access to all communications to and from the online quota system in order to know when or if each account holder had been selected for a permit (tag). The subject would then make contact with the account holder to let them know that they had been selected for an alligator permit and offer to take them on a hunt. In some cases, the account holder actually hunted and harvested an alligator. In other cases, the account holders stated they had no knowledge of the quota application/selection process and had never been on an alligator hunt.

As this investigation has continued over the past few months, RFC Penuel and Cpl. Cox have interviewed other hunters connected to the suspect and have served a search warrant on the suspects email account. They are currently awaiting results of that warrant in order to move forward with more interviews and charges which may include Identity Theft and/or Fraud along with hunting license violations and possession of illegally taken wildlife.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 1:00pm - 1:35pm
Victory Room

Attendees (4)