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Arizona man pleads guilty to poaching

Arizona man pleads guilty to poaching

A report from the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks summarizing the poaching investigation into Michael P. Duby, Jeffrey C. Fritz and Michael W. Duby.

Jan 18, 2011.

Arizona man pleads guilty to poaching By Hannah Stiff, Chronicle Staff The Bozeman Daily Chronicle | 0 comments

An Arizona man pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of poaching Tuesday in Gallatin County District Court.

Michael W. Duby's plea was the result of a plea bargain that reduced his prior charge from one count of unlawful possession of game animals, a felony, to the two misdemeanor counts by the same name.

District Court Judge John C Brown sentenced Duby to two six-month jail sentences that were both suspended on the condition that Duby not hunt or trap anywhere in the world during his suspended sentences, and never hunt or trap again in Montana.

The Montana Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks has been investigating Duby, his son, Michael "Mike" P. Duby, and Jeffrey C. Fritz since 2009, according to court documents.

Prosecutors allege that the three men unlawfully took 19 antelope and an undisclosed number of other big game animals and fowl from Montana from 2005 to 2008.

The younger Duby faces the most serious accusations of the three. He has been charged with four felony counts of unlawful possession of game animals, each of which carry a potential penalty of five years in prison and $50,000 worth of fines as well as the loss of hunting, fishing and trapping privileges for at least three years.

The bulk of the investigation was done in Alaska, where the younger Duby lives, by undercover Alaska state officer Aaron Frenzel and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services agent Samuel Friberg.

As part of the undercover operation, Friberg went fishing on the younger Duby's charter boat, where he saw hunting photos of Duby and other men posing with game animals, including two bull elk, and of elk horns and mule deer in the back of a pickup, according to court documents. The photos showed mountains and ranch scenes in the backgrounds.

Investigators found further proof of Mike Duby's hunting expeditions from photos on his website "FishHunter Charters." One photo caption read "Jeff and Mike's trip to Montana 2007," according to court documents. Investigators found that Mike Duby and Fritz never received the proper hunting permits.

In 2009, federal and state law-enforcement officers searched the younger Duby's Juneau, Alaska, home and seized a computer containing numerous photos of Mike Duby posing with game animals in Montana, and journals of his hunting trips to Montana from 2004 through 2007.

The investigation also turned up evidence implicating the elder Duby and Fritz in the alleged poaching scheme in 2006 and 2007, according to court documents.

The younger Duby is scheduled to appear in court next month, to possibly accept a plea deal, according to court documents.

Fritz faces one count of unlawful possession of game animals. He, too, is scheduled to appear in court next month.

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