January 25 2007
by Mary Jo Berry
Erin Paul Rodrigue entered not guilty pleas Jan. 24 to eight charges
relating to unlawful hunting.
Rodrigue was charged for unlawful possession of game animals, a
Felony, for allegedly having in his possession six or more illegally
taken white tailed deer. Count II, a Misdemeanor, Hunting during closed
season, charged that Rodrigue hunted or attempted to hunt big game
animals, namely deer, during a closed season.
Count III, Hunt or attempt to hunt with artificial light, records
state Rodrigue hunted or attempted to hunt a game animal by the aid or
with the use of a spotlight or other artificial light. Count IV, Hunt
using bait, states that he attempted to hunt a big game animal by the
aid or with the use of bait—a bale of hay.
Count V, Over limit killing of deer, records state he killed a second
game animal without authorization. Count VI, Possession of parts of
unlawfully killed game animals, charges that Rodrigue possessed antlers
attached to the head of an unlawfully killed white tail buck, head and
antlers from a 5 point bull elk, meat from an unlawfully killed cow elk,
and antlers taken at different times and place.
On Count VII, Waste of Game, Rodrigue allegedly told officers where
they could find wasted or all parts of the animals he had killed on 7
Count VIII, Failure to tag a game animal, charges that he failed to
properly cut out and attach his 2006 A9 Cow permit for a cow elk he had
Appearing before Judge Dusty Deschamps, Defense Attorney Michael F.
Bailey requested bail be lowered to $5,000 from the original $15,000 set
earlier, stating that his client was a peaceful resident of Mineral
County for five years, living and owning property up Tamarack Creek.
Prosecutor Shaun M. Donovan asked that bail be increased to $100,000
because of prior felony history which included cocaine, theft, and
Mr. Donovan stated that Rodrigue had terrorized his wife, threatened to
kill her and her son, and commented to his wife that “he’d killed before
and could do it again!”
Rodrigue denied all the allegations, stating that he ran the food
bank, and was a pastor in the area, and all of Mr. Donovan’s allegations
were from 15 or more years ago. He stated that his ex-wife was crazy,
and that Mr.
Donovan had knowledge of her behavior because of a prior conviction.
Records state that the Montana Fish and Parks began its investigation
on Jan. 9. The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms headed an
investigation into violations of federal firearms statutes.
On Jan. 10, armed with search warrants issued by the United States
District Court, officers searched the residence. There officers
allegedly uncovered evidence of numerous Montana Fish, Wildlife and
Parks violations, including the violation of the law prohibiting the
possession of firearms by felons.
According to a search warrant presented to the count, Rodrigue was
convicted of the felony crime of Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine in
Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on July 28, 1989 and of the crime of felony
theft in the same jurisdiction on December 4, 1995.
Rodrigue was also arrested and charged as a felon in possession of a
firearm by the Louisiana State Dept. of Corrections Probation/Parole on
August 21, 1998.
Court documents stated that the maximum penalty for all of the
charges is imprisonment in the Montana State Prison for a term of 5
years, imprisonment in the Mineral County Jail for a term of 9.5 years
and a fine of $69,000 and loss of hunting privileges for life.