Deserving Sentence For OR Deer Poachers

UPDATE: The Eugene Register-Guard reports July 16, 2011, that five more members of this poaching ring have pled guilty after reaching an agreement on lesser charges and sentenced. One person still has to face to justice.

A big tip of the cap to the Lane County court system — as well as the hard work of the Oregon State Police who made the massive case.

In an “unusual” — but well deserved — sentence handed down yesterday, a pair of Springfield deer poachers will be spending the next four deer seasons in jail.

When you’re heading into the Oregon hills come October, Shane Donoho, 37, and his father, Rory Donoho, 60, will be sitting in the county klink for 90 days after pleading guilty to a criminal conspiracy that, state police allege, killed over 300 deer the past half decade — 30 times the bag limit for the area they poached in had they been hunting lawfully.

ANTLERS SEIZED AT THE HOMES OF SHANE DONOHO AND RORY DONOHO, BOTH OF SPRINGFIELD, ORE., THIS PAST JANUARY. (OSP)

There are indications that the family has been poaching for generations.

According to an article in today’s Eugene Register-Guard, which broke the news of the case back in February:

“Shane Donoho said the poaching goes back as far as he can remember, that he was taught by his father, Rory, who was taught by (Shane’s) grandfather,” [Lane County Prosecutor Jay] Hall said in court. The day he and police served a search warrant at Rory Donoho’s home, the prosecutor noted, a 6- or 7-year-old grandchild in footed pajamas offered to show the officers how to hunt a deer.

“He said, ‘You’ve got to hold your spotlight in your left hand and kind of rest your rifle on top of it,’” Hall recounted. The prosecutor said he asked the boy why he needed a spotlight to hunt deer, and the child replied: “Because it’s dark outside and they’ll stop and look at you.”

As part of a plea deal that avoided longer jail terms for a range of felony racketeering and other charges, Shane, convicted on 82 counts, must pay $42,000 in restitution to Oregon, do 400 hours of community service “including speaking to hunting groups,” where I’m sure he’ll face a very warm welcome and was “ordered … to undergo counseling for a hunting ‘addiction’ as directed by his probation officer,” according to the paper.

The elder Donoho was convicted on 57 counts and must pay $20,000 in restitution, the paper said.

Both have been banned from hunting for life.

Previously, their accomplice Miguel Kennedy, 26, pled guilty to identity theft (four counts); forgery in the second degree (two counts); unlawful loaning or transfer of hunting tag; and racketeering and was sentenced last week to eight months in jail, $800 in fines and three years on probation, according to the Register-Guard.

The paper’s story today discusses how Kennedy “helped them ‘bring the scheme to a new level by stealing his ex-girlfriend’s identity in order to create a completely fake hunter profile.'”

For a large article in our June issue, an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist told Northwest Sportsman that deer numbers in the Gate Creek and Hagen Mountain area, where the Donohos poached, were off.

“The habitat is better than the deer numbers indicate,” Brian Wolfer said. “There aren’t the same number of deer there as you see in other parts of the unit” with similar habitat.”

That was echoed by OSP’s investigating trooper Marc Boyd who said, “… In the areas that the Donohos frequented during this long criminal conspiracy, you would have a hard time finding any deer,” according to the Eugene daily.

The paper also reports that the Donohos “forfeited to the government 19 rifles, 1,600 pounds of processed and frozen game meat, and 106 pairs of trophy antlers valued at between $180,000 and $400,000.”

Six others, who’ve all plead not guilty to misdemeanor charges, still await trial. They are:

Gerald S. Donoho, 64
Laura A. Donoho, 36
Sandra L. Shaffer, 59
Danny M. Hawkins, 60
Mary S. Normand, 61
Shawn Stone, 48

This morning, OSP issued a press release on the case:

Two additional suspects sentenced in one of Oregon’s most notable poaching operations,  Shane and Rory Donoho of Springfield, Oregon, pled guilty Tuesday to multiple felony and misdemeanor crimes in Lane County Circuit Court.

The case was investigated by the Oregon State Police (OSP) Fish & Wildlife Division troopers from the Springfield Area Command with assistance from, Albany, Bend, Oakridge, Florence and Roseburg offices. The 15-month investigation into the poaching operation also led investigators to multiple other crimes including Identity Theft, Computer Crime and Racketeering.

In April 2011, Shane and Rory Donoho, along with seven other people, were indicted by a Lane County Grand Jury on numerous criminal charges including wildlife crimes, Identity Theft, computer crimes and racketeering.  The men were arraigned April 28 in Lane County Circuit Court.

The investigation led by Trooper Marc Boyd of the OSP Springfield Area Command office alleges a long criminal conspiracy involving the illegal harvest of approximately 300 deer in the McKenzie wildlife management unit over the last five years.  Search warrants served at three separate locations during January 2011 in both Springfield and Eugene led to the seizure of 18 hunting rifles, 108 sets of antlers, timber company keys, numerous hunting licenses and tags, approximately 1600 pounds of processed wild game meat, and two whole unlawfully taken cow elk.

The two ring leaders identified below pled guilty July 12, 2011 in Lane County Circuit Court and were sentenced on the following charges:

* SHANE E. DONOHO, age 37, from Springfield
– Identity Theft (5 counts)
– Unlawful Take of Big Game (5 counts)
– Unlawful Possession of Game Mammal
– Unlawful Hunting of Antlerless Elk
– Unlawful Possession of Big Game Parts (50 counts)
– Forgery in the Second Degree
– Computer Crime (10 counts)
– Racketeering

SHANE DONOHO was sentenced to:
– 360 days in jail in four 90-day segments beginning on October 1, 2011 through 2014 – – – 5 years probation with strict guidelines
– 400 hours community service
– Forfeit 14 seized firearms, meat and antlers
– Pay $42,000 restitution to ODFW
– Pay $3,200 restitution to OSP
– Lifetime hunting license suspension

* RORY E. DONOHO, age 60, from Springfield
– Unlawful Loaning of Big Game Tag
– Unlawful Borrowing of Hunting Tag (3 counts)
– Identity Theft
– Unlawful Take Antlerless Deer
– Unlawful Possession of Big Game Parts (50 counts)
– Racketeering

RORY DONOHO was sentenced to:
– 360 days in jail in four 90 day segments beginning October 1, 2011 through 2014
– 5 years probation
– Forfeit all seized firearms
– Pay $20,000 in restitution to ODFW
– Lifetime hunting license suspension

The offenses occurred during 2009 and 2010 in Lane County on both Bureau of Land Management and private timber lands.  The wildlife unlawfully taken and/or possessed included Black tail Deer, and Elk.

The investigation revealed a long time criminal enterprise primarily involving the unlawful take of Black Tail Deer. Many of the deer were taken to fill tags for people who either do not hunt or who had their identification stolen for the purpose of illegally obtaining hunting licenses and tags in their name.  A break in the case came when one of the victims of identification theft received an ODFW big game tooth envelope in the U.S. mail and contacted the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to advise them of their mistake.  The initial investigation indicated hunting licenses and tags were bought in the reporting person’s name without their consent or knowledge.

OSP Fish & Wildlife Division troopers served search warrants with the assistance of BLM law enforcement, Lane County parole and probation, the Lane County District Attorney’s Office and OSP patrol troopers. The Lane County Sheriff’s Office forest deputies also assisted in the recovery of the two cow elk unlawfully taken the same day a search warrant was served.

Due to meat inspection protocols the meat seized can not be utilized for human consumption and will be donated to various wildlife rehabilitation facilities. The firearms will go to the Division of State Lands to be sold at auction with the proceeds going to the common school fund.

Cases involving illegal conduct such as this should be reported to the Turn-In-Poachers (TIP) line (800-452-7888) for the protection and future enjoyment of our natural resources.

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