Enforcement

Two Louisiana Men Charged with Alligator Violations and Arrested

Release Date: 04/30/2013

A Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agent cited two Louisiana men for alleged alligator violations on April 29 in Ascension Parish.

The agent cited Jason T. Causey, 23, of Gonzales, and Shane H. Knapp, 23, of Baton Rouge, for taking alligators during a closed season, hunting alligators at night with a firearm, illegal possession of alligators, taking alligators without a license, unauthorized use of a moveable, violating frog regulations for possessing a firearm, taking a bullfrog during a closed season and fishing without a basic fishing license.

After receiving an anonymous complaint of illegal activity at Alligator Bayou Tours, LDWF Sgt. Dennis Bueche and Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office (APSO) deputies arrived on scene around 12:10 a.m. on April 29.  Once on scene they heard an all-terrain vehicle (ATV), gunshots and saw a spotlight inside the Alligator Bayou Tours property.

After a brief search, the deputies and LDWF agent were able to contact Causey and Knapp and found them in possession of an illegally harvested 10 foot alligator that had been shot in the head with a .45 caliber pistol that was also in their possession.  After further investigation, it was determined that the ATV belonged to Alligator Bayou Tours and that Knapp and Causey were using the ATV to attempt to drag the alligator back to their truck.

Knapp and Causey were also found with a dead bullfrog and allegedly admitted to fishing earlier in the evening without basic fishing licenses.

The APSO charged Knapp and Causey with trespassing, illegal use of a firearm and criminal damage to private property.  LDWF seized the .45 caliber pistol.  The APSO impounded their truck and booked Knapp and Causey into the Ascension Parish Jail.

Hunting alligators during a closed season, hunting alligators at night with a firearm and illegal possession of an alligator each brings up to a $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail for each offense.  Taking alligators without a license, violating frog regulations and taking a bullfrog during a closed season each carries up to a $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail.  Fishing without a basic fishing license brings a $50 fine and up to 15 days in jail.

Unauthorized use of a moveable carries up to a $5,000 fine and up to five years in jail.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

Third Annual "Boating Education Lagniappe Day" Slated for May 11

Release Date: 04/18/2013

April 18, 2013 - The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) will be hosting the third annual "Boating Education Lagniappe Day" on May 11 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at eight different locations across the state.

During Boating Education Lagniappe Day, LDWF will provide instructors for the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) boating education course, NASBLA boating education certification, food and drinks, giveaways and door prizes all free of charge to the public.

Interested participants must register by visiting www.wlf.louisiana.gov/lagniappeday and calling the contact number listed for the chosen class.  LDWF urges the public to register quickly as most places have limited spaces available and registration is on a first come first serve basis.

LDWF has certified 493 boaters from the previous two Boating Education Lagniappe Days.

"Boating Education Lagniappe Day is the perfect opportunity for those in need of a boating education certification and those that want to learn about boating safety,” said LDWF Lt. Col. Jeff Mayne, the State's Boating Law Administrator.  “We want to make the day fun and educational at the same time and everything will be offered completely free."

Anybody born after Jan. 1, 1984 must complete a NASBLA approved boating education course and carry proof of completion to operate a motorboat in excess of 10 horsepower.

The course includes information on choosing a boat, classification, hulls, motors, legal requirements and equipment requirements.  The course also covers many navigation rules and charts, trailering, sailboats, canoeing, personal watercraft and more.  Completion of the course will result in the student being issued a vessel operators certification card.

Studies have shown that states with a mandatory boating education program have fewer boating incidents that result in fatalities than states that have no boating education program.  States with a boating education program for more than 20 years had 3.67 fatalities per 100,000 registered boats, and states with no boating education program had 6.61 fatalities per 100,000 boats.

LDWF initiated the state's boating education program in 2003 and has certified over 50,000 boaters during that time.

"Boating education has been a proven method to reduce fatalities on the water over time," said Capt. Rachel Zechenelly, LDWF's Boating Safety Coordinator.  "Since more and more of the boating public will fall into the mandatory age for certification, we will eventually reach a point where everyone that wants to boat in this state will have their boating education certificate making the waterways more enjoyable and safer."

Sponsors for the Boating Education Lagniappe Day are the Louisiana Wildlife Agents Association, Academy Sports and Outdoors, Pizza Hut, Cabela's, Songy’s Sporting Goods of Houma, South Louisiana Bank of Houma, Evergreen Cajun Center of Houma, St. Landry Lumber Company, Louisiana Waterway Safety Inc., Krispy Kreme of Metairie, Village Inn Restaurant, C&M Fuel/Team Lafitte Harbor, West Marine of Lakeview, Boat Stuff, Alario Bros. Marine Supply, Temento's Dive Shop and Puglia's Sporting Goods.

Below is the list of class locations and the registration contact information:

Bossier City
Academy Sports and Outdoors
2801 Beene Blvd.
Bossier City, LA 71111
Call the Minden Office at 318-371-3049 to register.

West Monroe
Academy Sports and Outdoors
111 Constitution Dr.
West Monroe, LA 71292
Call the Monroe Office at 318-362-3102 to register.

Alexandria
Academy Sports and Outdoors
3205 S. MacArthur Dr.
Alexandria, LA 71301
Call the Pineville Office at 318-487-5634 to register.

Opelousas
St. Landry Lumber Company
207 North Railroad Ave.
Opelousas, LA 70570
Call the Opelousas Office at 337-948-0257 to register.

Lake Charles
Lake Charles Civic Center - Contraband Room
900 Lakeshore Drive
Lake Charles, LA 70601
Call the Lake Charles Office at 337-491-2580 or 337-491-2588 to register.

Houma
Evergreen Cajun Center
4694 Main St.
Houma, LA 70360
Call the Thibodaux Office at 985-447-0821 to register.

Gonzales
Cabela's
2200 W. Cabela's Pkwy.
Gonzales, LA 70737
Call the Baton Rouge Office at 225-765-2999 to register.

Westwego
Bayou Segnette State Park Nature Center
7777 Westbank Expressway
Westwego, LA 70094
Call the New Orleans Office at 504-284-2023 to register.

For more information on boating education courses, please visit www.wlf.louisiana.gov/boating/courses.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

Texas Man Arrested on Fraud and Theft Charges

Release Date: 04/16/2013

April 16, 2013 -- A Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agent arrested a Texas man on several alleged felony fraud and theft violations this morning, April 16.

LDWF Sgt. Louis Burnett arrested Trac T. Tran, 41, of Seadrift, Texas, on seven felony violations and booked him into East Baton Rouge Parish Prison.  The seven felonies are for two counts of filing false documents, two counts of injuring public records and three counts of theft.

Sgt. Burnett began his investigation of Tran on March 18, 2013, after Tran was denied renewal of his Louisiana residential commercial fishing license, residential commercial vessel license and residential crab trap gear license.  Tran attempted to renew these licenses with a Texas driver’s license.

After completing his investigation, Sgt. Burnett determined that Tran was a Texas resident who also illegally obtained Louisiana residential commercial fishing, vessel and crab trap licenses in 2010 and 2011.  The difference in costs between the residential and non-residential commercial licenses was $525 for each of the three years, which makes the total theft from the state $1,575.

Filing false public records and injuring public records each brings up to five years with or without hard labor or up to a $5,000 fine for each count.  Theft of more than $1,500 carries up to a $3,000 fine and 10 years in jail for each count.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

LDWF Agents Make Six Illegal Turkey Hunting Cases During Weekend

Release Date: 04/16/2013

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents made six illegal turkey hunting cases during the April 12-14 weekend.

On April 12, agents cited Michael A. Kowalski, 34, of Katy, Texas, in Webster Parish for obtaining a license by fraud, hunting turkey without non-resident basic and big game licenses, and hunting turkey without a non-resident turkey stamp.

Agents cited Stephen K. Breaux, 37, of Houma, in East Feliciana Parish on April 13 for hunting turkey over a baited area, with an electronic device and failing to comply with turkey tagging regulations.  Agents seized the electronic call.

Alton D. Cook, 44, of Denham Springs, and Shane M. Johnston, 19, of Walker, were cited in East Feliciana Parish on April 13 for hunting turkey over a baited area, possession of an illegally taken turkey and criminal trespassing.  Agents also cited Johnson for failing to comply with turkey tagging regulations.  Agents seized the shotgun Cook and Johnston used and the illegally harvested turkey.

On April 13, agents cited Ashtin J. Willis, 21 of Grosse Tete, for taking over the limit of turkeys with two gobblers in the same day and possession of an illegally taken turkey on the Sherburne Wildlife Management Area in Iberville Parish.

Agents cited Ryan E. Dowden, 22, of Deridder, for possessing a loaded gun in a vehicle and possession of a rifle during turkey season while on the Peason WMA on April 14.

According to the 2013 Turkey Regulations pamphlet, no person shall hunt or take turkeys by the aid of baiting or on or over a baited area.  Hunters are not allowed to place, expose, deposit or scatter corn, wheat or other grain, salt or other feed to lure turkeys to their hunting area.  Also, turkey hunters are required to possess basic hunting and big game licenses, Louisiana wild turkey permit and turkey tags.

Possession of an illegally taken turkey carries a $400 to $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail.  Hunting turkeys over a baited area, taking over the legal limit, possession of rifle during turkey season, obtaining a license by fraud and hunting with an electronic device each brings a $250 to $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail for each offense.  Criminal trespassing carries a $100 to $500 fine and up to 30 days in jail.

Failing to comply with turkey tagging regulations and hunting without non-resident basic hunting and big game licenses each carries a $100 to $350 fine and up to 60 days in jail for each offense.  Failing to possess a turkey stamp brings a $50 fine and up to 15 days in jail.

LDWF agents involved in these cases are Lt. Will Roberts, Senior Agent Garrett Kimble, Senior Agent Carl Armstrong, Senior Agent Clay Marques, Senior Agent Bryant Coburn, Lt. Kenny Balkom, Lt. Curt Belton and Senior Agent Thomas J. Ashley.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

Plaquemines Parish Crabber Pleads Guilty To Harassment and Criminal Damage

Release Date: 04/11/2013

Today, April 11, a Boothville man pled guilty to one count of criminal damage under $500 and one count of harassing a person lawfully fishing in Plaquemines Parish.

Judge Kevin Conner of the 25th Judicial District of Plaquemines Parish accepted Nathan J. Creppel’s, 58, plea and sentenced him to pay a total of $650 in fines plus court costs.

Judge Conner also ordered Creppel to forfeit his 2013 commercial crab license and was barred from the commercial crab industry in any form for the remainder of 2013.  In addition, Creppel was also given a suspended six month prison sentence and placed on two years inactive probation with the stipulation that he commit no wildlife offenses.  Furthermore, he was ordered to pay $200 in restitution to the victim.

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents conducted an investigation into Creppel after receiving a hidden game camera that took photos of Creppel cutting the corks of another crab fisherman’s traps in the Mississippi River below Venice.  Cutting the corks rendered the gear unusable and unsalvageable.

Agents confronted Creppel at his home with the photos and he was subsequently cited for the violations on Oct. 11, 2012.

Agents participating in the case were Sgt. Adam Young and Senior Agent Robert Cosse Jr.  Assistant District Attorney Jerry Lobrano prosecuted the case.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

LDWF Agents Busy During Opening Weekend of Turkey Season

Release Date: 03/28/2013

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents made six turkey baiting cases during the opening weekend of the 2013 turkey hunting season.

The six cases were made in East Feliciana, St. Helena, and Livingston parishes from March 23-25.

Agents cited Jerry Harris, 42, of Zachary on March 23 in East Feliciana Parish for allegedly hunting turkey over a baited area, hunting with an unplugged shotgun, failing to comply with turkey tagging regulations and not possessing a turkey stamp.

Randall Foto, 46, and Edward Philippe, 45, both of Mandeville, were cited for allegedly hunting turkey over a baited area in Livingston Parish on March 23.

Bobby Valentene, 48, from Hammond, was cited for allegedly hunting turkey over a baited area in St. Helena Parish on March 23.

Agents also cited Warren Womack, 69, from Clinton, and Cory Edwards, from Jackson, in East Feliciana Parish for allegedly hunting turkey over a baited area on March 25.

According to the 2013 Turkey Regulations pamphlet, no person shall hunt or take turkeys by the aid of baiting or on or over a baited area.  Hunters are not allowed to place, expose, deposit or scatter corn, wheat or other grain, salt or other feed to lure turkeys to their hunting area.

Also, turkey hunters are required to possess Louisiana basic hunting and big game licenses, Louisiana wild turkey permit and turkey tags.  In addition, shotguns capable of holding over three shells must be plugged with a one piece filler.

Hunting turkeys over a baited area and hunting without an unplugged gun each bring a $250 to $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail for each offense.  Failing to comply with turkey tagging regulations carries a $100 to $350 fine and up to 60 days in jail.  Not possessing a turkey stamp brings a $50 fine and up to 15 days in jail.

LDWF agents involved in these cases are Lt. Will Roberts, Sgt. Guy Adams, Sgt. Randy Lanoux, Sgt. Toby Miller, Senior Agent Clay Marques, Senior Agent Ronny Robbins, Senior Agent Garrett Kimble, Senior Agent Carl Armstrong, Senior Agent Brody Roberts and Senior Agent Terry Hicks.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

Port Sulphur Man Charged with Attempted First Degree Murder

Release Date: 03/27/2013

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents arrested a Port Sulphur man for attempted first-degree murder of a LDWF agent, aggravated assault, resisting an officer, public intimidation and taking oysters from a polluted area on March 26.

With the aid of Louisiana State Police and the Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s Office (PPSO), LDWF agents arrested Jonathan K. Ragas, 50, at his home in Port Sulphur and booked him into the Plaquemines Parish Jail.

The arrest stems from an incident that occurred on March 20 when Ragas was stopped by an LDWF agent and PPSO marine division deputies who were assisting in the patrol.  The agent and deputies found Ragas taking oysters from polluted waters.

When the LDWF agent attempted to board Ragas’ vessel, Ragas exhibited violent behavior toward the agent and would not allow the agent to board the vessel.  At one point during the encounter Ragas brandished a hatchet toward the LDWF agent in an aggressive manner.  After repeated attempts to board the vessel and because of officer safety concerns, the agent and deputies decided to detain Ragas at a later date with an arrest warrant.

This is the sixth time that Ragas has been charged by LDWF agents for taking oysters from an unapproved area.  This also makes the third time that Ragas has been charged for assaulting an LDWF agent.

Attempted first-degree murder carries a penalty of life imprisonment at hard labor without benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence.  Aggravated assault brings up to a $1,000 fine and six months of jail time.  Resisting an officer carries up to a $500 fine and six months of jail time.  Public intimidation brings up to a $1,000 fine and five years in jail with or without hard labor.  Taking oysters from an unapproved area brings up to a $950 fine and 120 days in jail.

Agents participating in the case are Sgt. Adam Young, Lt. Eddie Skena, Sgt. Jason Russo, and Senior Agents Villere Reggio, Robert Cosse Jr., Gary Pierce, and Mitch Saunders.  Also assisting in the case are Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s Office Lt. Gerald Cormier and Deputy Chad Lafrance and from Louisiana State Police Lt. Dean Behrens, Sgt. Joseph Piglia, Trooper Gus Bethea, and
Trooper Kory Borcheding.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

Eight Oyster Fishermen Convicted for Oyster Harvest Violations

Release Date: 03/19/2013

March 19, 2013 -- Today, March 19, eight oyster fishermen entered a no contest plea for several health and oyster violations in the 15th Judicial District Court of Louisiana in Vermilion Parish.

The Honorable Judge Durwood Conque accepted the pleas from Antonio G. Ayala, 34, Jose L. Ayala, 41, Jose M. Ayala, 21, all of Dickinson, Texas, Jose F. Rodriguez, 31, Jose G. Arredondo, 45, Octavio R. Vega, 38, all of Houston, Texas, Jose M. Bocanegra, 23, of Bacliff, Texas, and Heliodoro Gonzalez-Bocanegra, 43, of Chalmette.  Judge Conque ordered the men to each pay a fine of $1,922.50.

On July 25, 2012, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents in Vermilion Parish conducted surveillance on a group of oyster fisherman that were harvesting oysters in Southwest Pass.

Agents observed several boats coming into the dock in Intracoastal City with sacks of oysters that were labeled to be shucked and processed.  However, agents later observed these fishermen change the tags on the sacks of oysters to indicate that the oysters could be consumed raw when offloading the sacks from their boats.  These mislabeled sacks of oysters were then loaded onto a truck and were destined for Florida, before LDWF agents intercepted the shipment.
Oysters that are intended for raw consumption have strict harvest and refrigeration requirements that were not met by these fishermen.  Agents seized a total of 495 sacks of oysters and returned them to the water in an area closed to oyster harvesting.

Each man pleaded no contest for violating the sanitation code for logbook and refrigeration requirements, adulterating or misbranding seafood, violating interstate commerce regulations and failing to fill out oyster tags correctly.

Since April of 2012, LDWF agents have seized over 1,000 sacks of oysters in Vermilion Parish alone and returned these oysters to closed areas.  These seizures were mainly pertaining to the enforcement of refrigeration requirements for oysters intended for raw consumption.

Sgt. Justin Sonnier was the lead investigator on this case, which was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Aimee Hebert.

Major Jubal Marceaux, Capt. Robert Buatt, Sgt. Brian Theriot and Senior Agents Jason Stagg, Myron Verret, Derek Logan, Carl Pickett, Donnie Bozeman and Jason Marks also assisted with this case.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

Five New Orleans Men Cited for Fishing Violations in Gulf

Release Date: 03/19/2013

March 19, 2013 -- After a joint investigation between the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), LDWF Enforcement Division agents cited five New Orleans men for alleged fishing violations today, March 19.

LDWF agents cited Nam Nguyen, 52, Nam Truong, 82, Hung Tran, 55, Son Pham, 41, and Hang Nguyen, 51, for violating highly migratory species regulations in the Gulf of Mexico.

Agents received a complaint from NOAA Fisheries that the USCG discovered the vessel fishing in federal waters with live bait on March 18.  LDWF agents boarded the vessel, The Blue Fin, when it returned to Dulac this morning and found J-hooks, hand lines and three places to hold live bait.

It is illegal to fish for highly migratory species in the Gulf of Mexico with live bait and J-hooks.  Circle hooks and either artificial lures or dead bait can be used with a highly migratory species permit.

Violating highly migratory species regulations brings up to $50,000 in fines, loss of any highly migratory species permits for up to one year and loss of catch.  Agents seized 2,861 pounds of yellowfin tuna and a total of 623 pounds of swordfish, wahoo and escolar, hand lines and two buoys.

LDWF Agents participating in the case are Sgt. Louis Burnett, Senior Agents Dean Aucoin and Norman Deroche and Sgt. Ted Dewitt.  NOAA Fisheries Special Agent Steve Campbell and USCG Ensign Zack Bowman also assisted in the case.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

Charter Guide Sentenced for Tuna Violations and Resisting Agents in Plaquemines Parish

Release Date: 03/01/2013

A Denham Springs man, who owns Deep South Charters out of Venice, was sentenced on Feb. 27 in Plaquemines Parish for tuna fishing violations and resisting an officer.

Josh S. Howard, 31, pleaded guilty to two counts of resisting an officer, one count of intentional littering and one count of violating recreational take of tuna regulations.

Judge M. Clement of the 25th Judicial District of Plaquemines Parish accepted Howard’s guilty plea and sentenced him to forfeit his 2013 charter boat guide licenses and forbid him from acting as a charter captain for 2013.  Howard was also sentenced to a total of $850 in fines plus court costs, 32 hours of community service and two years of probation with the addition that no wildlife and fishery offenses can be committed during the time of probation.  If Howard does commit any wildlife and fishery violation during his two years of probation, he may face further revocation of charter boat licenses.

Howard’s guilty plea stems from an investigation conducted by Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents.  LDWF agents were tipped off by confidential informants that Howard participated in the catching and retaining of a large Bluefin tuna in April of 2012 after the season had closed.

After a lengthy investigation, agents secured a subpoena for the cell phone owned by Howard where photos of the fish were believed to be stored.  When agents approached Howard with the subpoena and asked for his phone on May 18, 2012, Howard threw the phone overboard into the water thereby destroying any suspected evidence.

Howard was placed under arrest and booked into the Plaquemines Parish Jail.  Agents were able to secure a search warrant for his home in Denham Springs and seize his computer.  Howard then provided agents with photos and videos of the illegally harvested tuna.

Agents participating in the case were Sgt. Adam Young, Sgt. Roy Pier, Sgt. Louis Burnett, Senior Agents Villere Reggio and Ladd Turner and National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration Special Agent Charles Tyre.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

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