WASHINGTON – A Colorado couple has been sentenced in U.S. District Court in Denver on charges related to the illegal trapping and interstate sale of bobcats, the Justice Department announced today.
Jeffrey M. Bodnar, 37, was sentenced to 27 months in prison and three years of supervised release during which time he will be prohibited from hunting, trapping or fishing. Mr. Bodnar pleaded guilty on June 1, 2010, to one felony count of conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act and one felony count of possession of a firearm by a felon.
Veronica Anderson-Bodnar, 46, was sentenced to five years of probation during which time she will be prohibited from possessing firearms and also prohibited from hunting, trapping or fishing. Ms. Anderson-Bodnar pleaded guilty on June 1, 2010, to one misdemeanor count of Lacey Act trafficking and one misdemeanor count of making false statements in violation of the Lacey Act.
“The Lacey Act has been in place for over 100 years to prevent the kind of interstate trafficking of wildlife and wildlife parts in which these defendants engaged for profit,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice. “This case is an excellent example of how state and federal wildlife agencies work together to protect our nation’s natural treasures from commercial plunder. The Justice Department is determined to assist in that effort by prosecuting violators to the full extent of the law.”
“Prosecutions under the Lacey Act are essential to protect wildlife from illegal trapping and trafficking of wildlife pelts,” said District of Colorado U.S. Attorney John Walsh.
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, and including their pelts and other parts, are considered wildlife under the Lacey Act. Colorado law limits bobcat trapping to a specified season, requires that trappers obtain licenses and generally prohibits the trapping of bobcats with leghold traps.
In his guilty plea earlier this year, Jeffrey Bodnar admitted to conspiring with his wife, Veronica Anderson-Bodnar, to unlawfully trap and kill bobcats without a license and using prohibited leghold traps, 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 admitted to possessing a firearm after his conviction on a state felony charge in 2000.
In separate court documents related to her own guilty plea, Veronica Anderson-Bodnar admitted earlier this year 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.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Colorado Division of Wildlife. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado and the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section.