Poaching Probe Leads to Criminal Charges
January 9, 2008 - 11:53am
By DAVID DISHNEAU
Associated Press Writer
HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) - A nine-month probe of alleged deer
poaching has led to criminal charges and civil citations against a
St. Mary's County man, the state Natural Resources Police said
John G. Middleton, 29, of Clements, allegedly used other people's
hunting licenses to exceed the white-tailed deer bag limit by five.
He also is charged with failing to attach state-issued tags to 13
deer he allegedly killed, Maryland Natural Resources Police Sgt. Ken
In all, Middleton is charged with 36 hunting violations and nine
criminal offenses, including three counts of falsifying public
records, Turner said.
Middleton denied the charges in a telephone interview.
"They didn't catch me doing anything," said Middleton, a drywall
contractor. "They don't have video. They don't have pictures."
Turner said the probe began last January when authorities got a
tip about untagged deer heads allegedly belonging to Middleton. He
said investigators seized two untagged, mounted trophy heads, which
led them to Wathen's Taxidermy shop in Hollywood, where they found
evidence of numerous other violations.
Middleton said the heads seized from his home were from a
collection of about 20 personal trophies dating back to his teens.
He said the missing tags, which were supposed to have been attached
to the backs of the mounts, apparently fell off during a number of
moves from one residence to another.
He said evidence from the taxidermy shop that allegedly tied him
to illegal deer kills actually resulted from favors he did for
friends by bringing their deer to the taxidermist and leaving his
name and telephone number as the contact.
Most of the other criminal charges stem from a Sept. 3 incident
in which Middleton allegedly shot a white-tailed buck using a
spotlight at night while trespassing on private, posted farmland. He
said the farmer who identified him was mistaken.
Maximum penalties for the criminal counts total more than 17
years behind bars and more than $10,000 in fines. The hunting
violations carry maximum penalties totaling at least six months in
jail and more than $40,000 in fines.