Article Posted: October 21, 2003

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ODNR recoups $55,000 from eight men netted in "Operation Cornerstone"

COLUMBUS, OH -- Eight Conneaut men, convicted of poaching thousands
of yellow perch from Lake Erie and selling them on the commercial market,
have been ordered to pay a total of $55,000 in restitution to the Ohio
Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife. It is the
largest poaching restitution ever awarded to the division.
The men were arrested in July as part of "Operation Cornerstone," an
undercover investigation that focused on the poaching and illegal sale of
yellow perch in the Ashtabula County area. Each eventually pled guilty to
first-degree misdemeanor charges involving the sale of sport-caught fish - a
violation of Ohio wildlife laws.
"Ohio's fish and wildlife are the property of all its citizens,"
said Daniel Schneider, law enforcement coordinator with the ODNR Division of
Wildlife. "Leads we received from the Turn In a Poacher (T.I.P.) hotline
about this case clearly indicate that Ohioans and the courts will not
tolerate such abuses of the state's natural resources."
In addition to the restitution, the men were each fined $1,000 and
court costs, with $900 of the fine suspended. Each received a six-month
suspended jail sentence and was placed on three years probation. Each had
his fishing rights suspended for three years with the condition that the
fines and restitution must be paid in full before those rights can be
The eight convicted poachers, all of Conneaut, and their restitution
amounts are:
* Jason W. Heinbaugh, 27, 747 Clinton Avenue - $15,000
* James P. Mucciarone, 20, 846 Broad Street - $15,000
* Raoul Erdman, 57, 604 Mill Street - $1,872
* Richard H. Ferl, 64, 440 Underridge Road - $3,121
* Walter G. Kaczorski, 56, 381 Bliss Avenue - $6,867
* Keith E. Penniman, 26, 546 Keefus Road - $2,653
* William J. Powell, 69, 5328 Center Road - $3,121
* Edwin K. Winger, 66, 7817 Pennsylvania - $6,742
Established in 1982, the T.I.P. Program allows Ohioans to call
1-800-POACHER (800-762-2437) from anywhere in the state to anonymously
report wildlife violations.

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