UNDERCOVER WILDLIFE INVESTIGATION NETS SUSPECTED POACHERS|
COLUMBUS, OH -- "Operation Cornerstone," an undercover wildlife law
enforcement investigation conducted by the Ohio Department of Natural
Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife, culminated today with the arrest of
eight suspected poachers in Ashtabula County for the commercial sale of
yellow perch caught by sport fishing.
The individuals are accused of illegally selling thousands of Lake
Erie yellow perch caught in the waters around Conneaut. The investigation
was titled Operation Cornerstone in reference to Ashtabula County being
known as the "cornerstone of Ohio."
"Thanks to concerned conservationists willing to alert wildlife
officials, the illegal selling of sport fish in the Conneaut area is being
stopped," said Daniel Schneider, law enforcement administrator for the ODNR
Division of Wildlife.
The eight Conneaut residents arrested were: Jason W. Heinbaugh, 27,
747 Clinton Ave.; Edwin K. Winger, 66, 7817 Pennsylvania; Keith E.
Pennington, 26, 546 Keefus Rd.; Walter G. Kaczoroski, 56, 381 Bliss Ave.;
James P. Muchiarone, 20, 846 Broad St.; Raoul Erdman, 57, 604 Mill St.;
Richard H. Ferl, 64, 440 Underridge Rd.; and William J. Powell, 69, 5328
Center Rd. Each was charged with one, fifth-degree felony count of
violating Ohio's wildlife laws. A fifth-degree felony carries a maximum
penalty of $2,500 in fines and 12 months in jail.
"Over the years, the Division of Wildlife has received valuable
information through our Turn In a Poacher (TIP) hotline, assisting us in
ending a variety of wildlife violations," said Schneider. "This case is
another example of how the concern of Ohio sportsmen and women can be used
to protect Ohio wildlife."
This investigation continues and additional individuals and
businesses may be charged.
Established in 1982, the TIP program allows Ohioans to call a
toll-free number from anywhere in the state to report wildlife violations.
Calls regarding wildlife violations can be placed anonymously at