After a lengthy four year investigation a 77-year-old Cherokee County, Texas licensed deer breeder was sentenced for illegally transporting wildlife in the Eastern District of Texas and then lying about it to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife agent, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales today.
Billy Powell pleaded guilty on June 14, 2011, to the felony offense of smuggling at least 37 whitetail deer, over a 3 year time span, from Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio into Texas in violation of state and federal laws. Powell also admitted that he made a false statement and submitted a false document to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife special agent who was looking into the matter. Today, Powell was sentenced to serve 3 years probation with six months home confinement to be monitored with an electric anklet. Powell was also ordered to pay a $1 million fine, to be deposited into the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Lacy Act Reward Fund, as well as $500,000.00 in restitution to Texas Parks and Wildlife. During the term of probation, Powell will be prohibited from participating in any manner in commercial deer breeding. Additionally, Powell must forfeit any illegally imported deer, any progeny of those deer, and any biological material derived from said deer, which would include any semen, antlers, mounts, and cloned deer. Powell has already forfeited over 1,300 straws of frozen semen valued at approximately $961,500.00 to U.S. Fish and Wildlife.
According to information presented in court, on at least four separate occasions, spanning from October 2006 through June 2008, Powell knowingly imported at least 37 live whitetail deer, many of whom came from captive deer farms in Ligonier, Indiana, into the state of Texas and to his “5-P Farms”, high fenced deer breeding facility in Cherokee County Texas. These deer included bucks known as “Fat Boy” aka “Barry”, “Silver Storm” aka “Hit Man”, “Y 009″, “Eagle Storm” aka “BJ”, “Thunderstruck”, “High Five”, and “Primer” aka “Spikes”. At all times Powell knew that Texas law prohibited any person from possessing a deer acquired from an out-of-state source. In spite of this, Powell agreed to participate in the above-described transactions in which whitetail deer would be secretly transported from Illinois, Indiana, and/or Pennsylvania, to Texas in order to evade Texas laws and regulations.