7 arrested for poaching
BY ROBERT L. BAKER
Seven pipeline company workers from Louisiana and Arkansas were arrested Sunday morning and charged with illegally killing deer in northern Wyoming County.
Wildlife Conservation Officer Victor Rosa said the men are each charged with multiple counts of unlawful taking of big game during a closed season.
Rosa said that a woman who lived off of Stang Road in Washington Township called 911 Saturday around 11 p.m. saying that she had
heard shots fired and spotlighting going on in a field.
Rosa investigated the scene, and noted in an affidavit of probable cause that he and fellow WCO William Pierce staked out the area for about 90 minutes when a late model pickup truck seemed to be pacing the road, stopping briefly at the location of a dead deer, then driving away and coming back.
The truck eventually stopped again, and the WCOs observed two individuals in the taillights of the truck throwing an object into the rear of the truck.
The truck then drove off.
Rosa and Pierce then pursued the truck and initiated a felony stop, according to the complaint.
At that point, five suspects were removed from the vehicle: Timothy A. Barnett Jr., 26, of Imboden, Ark.; Kenneth Preston Aden, 28, and Jonathon Ervin Aden, 23, both of Oakdale, La.; James Christopher Lowe, 32, of Pitkin, La.; and Weldon James Thibodeaux, 35, of Pineville, La.
All suspects were placed in restraints with the assist of Pennsylvania
State Police and Meshoppen Police Chief John Krieg.
Rosa said that the men were in the area working for Elite Energy Services LLC, which he believed was contracted to lay pipeline for Chief Oil & Gas.
Asked about the relationship, Kristi Gittins of Chief said, “We expect all our employees and subcontractors to uphold the law and this type behavior is unacceptable. This is the first time we have used this contractor and the relationship has now been terminated.”
She added, “We have terminated contractor relationships before
when there have been problems and we don’t expect that practice to change,”Gittins said, noting Chief does not “allow firearms on our locations at any time for any reason.”
Rosa found an antlered white-tailed deer in the bed of the 2008 Silverado belonging to Barnett.
Barnett, according to the complaint, admitted to the unlawful killing of the deer and the others also admitting involvement in the taking or possession.
No firearm was recovered from the vehicle, however.
According to the complaint, the weapon had been dropped off earlier about five miles away at the Ellsworth Hill Road residence in Auburn Township of the Aden brothers and Lowe.
When the WCOs arrived at the residence they noted blood going into the side door of a detached garage.
Inside the residence, were Robert Shaun Sauls, 31, and Steve Larry Ware, 58, both of Oakdale, La.
Sauls, according to the complaint, admitted to the taking of a white-tailed buck earlier in the week and said he had been involved with
several additional unlawful taking of white-tailed deer in the past several weeks.
Searches revealed six sets of antlers- five in the garage and one in Saules’ bedroom, all from recently killed deer.
A refrigerator and freezer both contained approximately 100 pounds of fresh cut deer meat, and a cooler on the front deck of the residence contained one large piece of fresh deer meat.
The complaint noted that Ware told Rosa he knew of the deer at the residence but denied any involvement.
However, Rosa said Ware had been implicated in the unlawful taking of one deer.
Barnett, Lowe, the Adens, and Thibodoux face three counts each for possessing seven white-tail deer killed in close season.
Ware and Sauls also face three counts each of unlawful taking of big game for possessing six white-tail deer in a closed season.
The men were arraigned Sunday before Magisterial District Judge Jennifer Vandine of Laporte and taken to the Wyoming County Prison.
Ware, Thibodeaux, Sauls and Barnett were released after posting $10,000 bail, according to court records.
Each of the defendants faces a preliminary hearing before Magisterial District Judge John Hovan in Tunkhannock Township on Dec. 7.