Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Lacey Act: Ted Nugent Discusses His Federal Guilty Plea In Alaska Black Bear Killing With Glenn Beck

By now, most readers probably know that Ted Nugent pleaded guilty to knowingly transporting a black bear he illegally killed in Alaska in violation of the Lacey Act during a hunting trip to Sukkwan Island in Southeast Alaska in May 2009. Nugent illegally shot and killed the bear after wounding another bear in a bow hunt; the bow incident counted toward a state seasonal limit of one bear in that location. Wikipedia has an overview of the Lacey Act.

Under the provisions of the agreement, Nugent must pay a $10,000 fine and serve two years of probation, including a special condition that he not hunt or fish in Alaska or on U.S. Forest Service properties for a year. He must also create a public service announcement that will be broadcast on his show every second week for a year. In addition, he agreed to pay the state of Alaska $600 for the bear that was taken illegally. Nugent also apologized for his actions saying "I would never knowingly break any game laws. I'm afraid I was blindsided by this and I sincerely apologize to everyone for it." Alaska Dispatch published the full text of Nugent's statement to the court; you can also listen to audio of it embedded below:

-- Read the 16-page plea agreement HERE.

But on April 26th, Nugent had much more to say about it. During an interview with Glenn Beck, Nugent said he was completely unaware of the Alaska law when he killed the bear back back in 2009. He explained that neither his attorney Wayne Anthony Ross nor the Magistrate Judge Michael Thompson had ever heard of the regulatory structure and, as far as he knows, is the first person ever charged under the law:

“I stumbled in Alaska. There was a new law — that it‘s very important to note that I wasn’t the only one who had never heard of it,” Nugent explained. “We can‘t find anybody that ever heard of this new unprecedented law that if you’re arrow or bullet shows signs of nicking or touching an animal, that you’re big game tag is null and void — including the resident judge in the courtroom who’s lived in the only zone where this law exists.”

Of course, that didn't matter to federal prosecutor Jack Schmidt, who insisted that just because Ted Nugent is an avid hunter, he should be an expert on every related law on the books. The Feds don't care about intent; all they're interested in is whether or not you did it. Nugent sure would have strengthened his case had he chosen to fight it and take it to trial. The fact that someone like Ted Nugent, who has plenty of financial resources because of his career as a musician, was reluctant to force a trial illustrates the infrastructural inequity of the justice system, where a defendant with finite resources and no access to tax revenue is forced to confront a prosecutorial system with infinite resources and the power to replenish those resources through tax revenues. Furthermore, if Nugent had contested it, the Feds would have inevitably dragged it out in an effort to wear down his resistance by keeping his life on hold.

Another Alaska Dispatch article by Craig Medred answers two questions. First, the reason the Feds got involved is because the interstate shipment of illegally killed wildlife is a federal crime under the Lacey Act. Usually, the feds wait for a state to make a case against a hunter or a poacher or a trafficker before grabbing their chunk of the criminal's hide, but they don't have to. If they can make a case the animal was killed illegally and then shipped across state lines, they can charge, and in this case they did. Federal attorneys decided Nugent had broken the letter of the law, and that was good enough for them. Nugent was obviously ratted out to the Feds, either by a member of his filming crew, or by someone involved with the U.S. Forest Service, which granted a permit to film in the Tongass National Forest.

Second, Medred speculates that the primary reason Nugent agreed to a plea deal make this all go away in the easiest possible way. Because Nugent is worth $20 million, $10,000 is like pocket change to him.




    1. i beleave some one is trying make a example of ted nugent to show the true might of our goverment against a individual who has no chance you know the old saying might is right i think all of the gun laws are elegal to begin with when a veteran is givin no speacial concideration when buying guns that shows were its at in america thanks for your service and haray for the goverment and the hell with you as a citizen

  3. Ignorance of the law is no excuse that is teds fault for not educating himself on the laws before he went hunting as all responsible people do.