June 2, 2010 - A Colorado couple pleaded guilty in a Denver federal court to charges related to the illegal trapping and interstate sale of bobcats, the Justice Department announced today.
Jeffrey M. Bodnar, 37, pleaded guilty Tuesday to one felony count of conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act, and one felony count of possession of a firearm by a felon. His wife, Veronica Anderson-Bodnar, 46, pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of Lacey Act trafficking and one misdemeanor count of making false statements in violation of the Lacey Act. Both defendants reside in Hartsel, Colo.
The Lacey Act is a federal law that makes it illegal to transport or sell in interstate commerce any wildlife taken, possessed, transported or sold in violation of state law or regulation. Bobcats, whether alive or dead, including their pelts and other parts, are considered wildlife under the Lacey Act.
In court documents, Jeffrey Bodnar admitted to conspiring with his wife to unlawfully trap and kill bobcats without a license and using prohibited leghold traps in violation of Colorado law, and to sell the bobcat pelts to fur buyers in Montana and Kansas. He also admitted to conspiring with his wife to submit false records to the Colorado Division of Wildlife in order to obtain tags for the pelts. With regard to the firearms charge, Bodnar, who was convicted of a state felony charge in 2000, admitted to possessing at least one firearm. The prosecution indicated in court documents that it will seek at sentencing to prove that Bodnar possessed as many as seven firearms.
Jeffrey Bodnar is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 15, 2010. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the conspiracy charge, and a maximum penalty of ten years in prison and $250,000 fine for the firearms charge.
In separate court documents, Veronica Anderson-Bodnar admitted to selling bobcat pelts to a buyer from Kansas in March 2008, when she should have known that the bobcats were trapped without a license and using prohibited leghold traps. She also admitted to making and submitting false records to the Colorado Division of Wildlife in order to obtain tags for the pelts.
Veronica Anderson-Bodnar is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 15, 2010. She faces a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine on each count. According to court documents, the government will recommend to the court that she be sentenced to five years of probation during which time she will be prohibited from possessing firearms and also prohibited from hunting, trapping, or fishing, or accompanying anyone hunting, trapping, or fishing, anywhere in the United States.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Colorado Division of Wildlife. The case is being prosecuted the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado and the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section.