The lengths some people go to can be truly astounding, as evidenced in this new installment of dumb outdoor crooks
I am convinced that some outdoor crooks actually have to work at being dumb. And, if they have a substantial monetary incentive, they will be even dumber in their endeavors.
Here is a good example of greed overwhelming common sense.
Just last week (May 24), Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officers concluded part of an investigation with a rather impressive roundup of nine individuals. They were dealing in American alligators of all shapes and sizes. This situation was the result of a multi-year undercover operation that began in 2015 by the FWC.
Just how dumb were these perps? They allowed undercover FWC officers to infiltrate the local alligator farming community, giving those officers ample opportunities to gain information and evidence about those poachers who were breaking the law in regard to the FWC’s public and private lands alligator egg harvesting program and alligator farming.
But on that recent Wednesday morning, nine persons felt the hammer of justice descending on them. The charges for violations of Florida laws ranged from possession of American alligators, alligator egg harvesting, interstate transport of alligator eggs and hatchlings, falsifying official records, dealing in stolen property, conspiracy to commit racketeering, racketeering and other wildlife violations. Those are some serious charges, folks, and include first-, second- and third-degree felonies. The total number of felony violations is 44.
So just how big was this investigation? In the two years that it was in progress, officers documented over 10,000 illegally harvested eggs. No one will ever know the number of adult female alligators that were killed illegally so that the eggs they were protecting could be stolen.
Then you can factor in that many of the nine suspects were part of a criminal conspiracy with many “arms” that reached out in who knows how many directions to further their nefarious schemes. Who knows how many law-abiding business owners they harmed by operating black markets that undermine the legal process.
Who are these yahoos? Robert Kelly Albritton, Arcadia, Florida: One felony count of racketeering, one felony count of conspiracy to commit racketeering, one felony count of scheme to defraud, 14 felony counts of unlawful possession of alligator eggs/alligators.
Robert Thomas Beasley, Arcadia: One felony count of conspiracy to commit racketeering, six felony counts of unlawful possession of alligator eggs/alligators.
David Wentworth Nellis, Punta Gorda, Florida: One felony count of conspiracy to commit racketeering, one felony count of uttering a forged instrument, one felony count of unlawful possession of alligator eggs.
Carl Wayne Pickle Jr., Arcadia: One felony count of conspiracy to commit racketeering, four felony counts of unlawful possession of alligator eggs/alligators.
Wayne Andrew Nichols, Arcadia: Three felony counts of unlawful possession of alligators, one felony count of unlawful killing/white ibis, one first-degree misdemeanor count of attempting to take white ibis.
Christopher Lee Briscall, Fort Denaud, Florida: One felony count of unlawful possession of alligators, one felony count of conspiracy to commit dealing in stolen property.
Matthew Edward Evors, Cape Coral, Florida: One felony count of unlawful possession of alligators, one felony count of conspiracy to commit dealing in stolen property. Isaiah Joseph Romano.
Fort Denaud: One felony count of unlawful possession of alligators, one felony count of conspiracy to commit dealing in stolen property.
Jacob Oliver Bustin-Pitts, Fort Denaud: One felony count of unlawful possession of alligators, one felony count of conspiracy to commit dealing in stolen property.
There are many other aspects of this investigation that are still ongoing, and the FWC expects more arrests to be announced in the future.
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Now we go from just plain dumb to really stupid. Actually, the following is so stupid that it rates a category all by itself.
This story begins on the evening of April 6 when some workers looking out their Universal Warehouse windows in Gloversville, Fulton County, observed a guy on a snowmobile and running on bare field grass. It was an obvious attempt to cross or “skip” the machine across a pond.
There was just one slight problem. Yeah, the pond was not frozen.
As might be expected, the guy on this machine failed to make it across, and the snowmobile began to sink. Full submersion took approximately 35 seconds. But the operator did make it safely to shore. The workers yelled to him as he emerged from the pond, but he climbed into a waiting pickup truck and sped off.
Cops were soon swarming over the pond area. The New York State Police responded along with ECO Lt. Matthew Clemens and ECO Jason Hilliard. After the snowmobile was removed from the pond by a towing service, the ECOs discovered it was not registered and no record of it existed in New York. What to do now?
So the two officers began to spread the word locally that the owner needed to come forward to claim his snowmobile. (Yes, I fully realize this a corny excuse, but the DEC rarely has to deal with rocket scientists.)
Anyway, believe it or not, on April 11, a Johnstown resident contacted the State Police and agreed to meet with ECO Shane Manns to claim the snowmobile. And believe it or not, this yahoo admitted that he was the operator of the snowmobile at the pond. He was issued eight tickets for various snowmobile, water quality, and trespassing charges. All were returnable to the Town of Johnstown Court on April 19, 2017.
Once again the Forrest Gump Principle holds true. Stupid really is as stupid does ...
Len Lisenbee is the Daily Messenger’s Outdoor Writer. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.