Eight people are facing criminal charges in a grand jury indictment after a deer processing outfit in Ohio was found to have poached more than 30 whitetail deer and stolen some 700 pounds of venison from its clients. The stolen meat, which A & E Processors skimmed from the harvested deer of their paying customers, was then sold for a profit.
While five of the eight individuals named in the indictments were directly employed by A & E Processors, the other three were allegedly supplying the company with wild game meat via poaching.
The indictments were handed down in a joint effort by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Individuals accused include: Aaron L. Jones, 32; Brittney E. Marcum, 31; Randy L. Jones Jr., 64; Charlotte F. Jones, 63; James E. Copley, 58; Justin M. Wells, 36; William C. Gilbert, 27; Justin F. Butterfield, 23.
The charges vary from jacklighting and possession of untagged deer and turkey parts to conspiracy to commit telecommunications fraud and money laundering.
All told, Attorney General Yost is doling out 91 criminal counts for all 8 individuals implicated in the case.
According to Luke Sullivan, deputy press secretary for the attorney general, prison time is a real possibility for at least some of the accused in this case.
“All eight defendants have appeared and bonds have been issued,” Sullivan told MeatEater. “Many are being charged with felonies and, obviously, prison time is on the table.”
Sullivan declined to provide specifics on the length of the investigation into A & E Deer Processing, which he called a “father-son operation,” but said that the recent indictments stemmed from a “lengthy investigation.”
Galia County is situated in the southeastern part of Ohio on the state’s border with West Virginia. The area is known for high deer densities and trophy whitetails.
"Deer hunting is a deep-rooted tradition in Ohio, with generations having been taught the values of conservation, responsibility, and discipline," Attorney General Yost said in a press release. "This level of corruption violates those tenets, and protecting and preserving this part of our heritage are important to all sportsmen and women."