New York Poachers Busted In Colorado
November 29, 2006
Six New Yorkers and their friend from Massachusetts have learned
that Colorado takes poaching seriously. The group spent a night in
jail and paid a total of $42,000 for their illegal hunting
activities in northwest Colorado. The men were nabbed by officers
with the Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) after landowners in the
Meeker area reported suspicious activity involving a black Hummer
with out of state plates.
On Nov. 17, wildlife officers were called about a deer that had been
shot illegally on private property. Evidence was collected at the
scene and witnesses were interviewed. While no one had seen the
poaching incident occur, all of the witnesses reported seeing a
black Hummer H2 slowly cruising the area roads while the occupants
watched nearby deer and elk herds. The information was enough to
interest investigating officers and in a small town like Meeker, it
didn't take long to locate the vehicle at an area ranch bunkhouse.
On Nov. 19, wildlife officers contacted seven individuals at the
bunkhouse. The men were identified as:
DAVID B. SOUZA Jr., 49, St. Johnsville, NY
STANLEY D. TOMKIEWICZ, 60, Acushnet, MA
THOMAS M. GRAY, 35, St. Johnsville, NY
RAYMOND E. SELAH Jr., 41, St. Johnsville, NY
ROBERT BERTHOLDE, 54, Fort Plain, NY
DAVID W. WEBER, 34, Nelliston, NY
TIMOTHY P. ROCKLIN, 21, Fort Plain, NY
The men consented to a search of the bunkhouse and the surrounding
property. During the search, wildlife officers found numerous animal
carcasses and antlers. Several of the carcasses were legally tagged,
but other carcasses were not tagged or were tagged with invalid
licenses. Several of the carcasses, including one covered by a tarp
and hay bales in a horse trailer, had been intentionally concealed
on the property. Investigation eventually revealed at least five
mule deer carcasses at the residence, while only two of the men held
valid deer licenses.
All of the men were read their Miranda rights and several chose to
exercise their right to remain silent. Some of the men gave
conflicting or untruthful accounts of how the deer came to be in
Wildlife officers realized that, without cooperation from the group,
further investigation and interviews would need to be conducted.
Based on the evidence at the scene, the men were placed under arrest
for illegal possession of wildlife (CRS 33-6-109) and transferred to
the Rio Blanco County Jail. Officers also seized numerous hunting
items, all wildlife at the scene, and three vehicles, including the
2003 black Hummer H2.
On Nov. 20, the men were arraigned in Rio Blanco County Court. Judge
Laurie Anne Noble advised them of the charges against them. The men
asked to speak with the local District Attorney regarding a possible
The local DA and the DOW agreed to allow each of the men to plead
guilty to illegal possession of wildlife (CRS 33-6-109). Each man
agreed to pay a $6,000 fine. They also face an administrative
hearing that will determine the length of time that the men will be
barred from hunting and fishing in Colorado and 23 other Wildlife
Violator Compact member states.
Following guilty pleas being entered, the seized vehicles and
personal items were returned to the men.