Authorities Looking for Missing Boater in St. Bernard Parish

Release Date: 10/27/2017

Search and rescue crews with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), the St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office (SBSO) Marine Division and the U.S. Coast Guard are searching for a missing boater in St. Bernard Parish.

The search and rescue crews are looking for Haskin Payne, 44, of Zachary, after he fell overboard from his 24-foot-vessel while fishing on Bayou Bienvenue near Chalmette on Oct. 26.

LDWF enforcement agents received a call about a man who fell overboard around 5 p.m. on Oct. 26.  The SBSO Marine Division was the first agency on scene and found Payne’s wife in the boat on the banks of the bayou.  The SBSO was able to transport the wife to an ambulance and then the ambulance transported her to University Hospital in New Orleans where she got treated for hypothermia.

According to the wife, they were fishing when her husband slipped and fell into the water.  Payne’s wife then jumped in the water and was unsuccessful in trying to get him back in the vessel.

LDWF will be the lead investigative agency for this fatal boating incident.  Both Payne and his wife were not wearing personal flotation devices at the time of the incident.

Two Men Arrested For Oyster Violations in St. Bernard Parish

Release Date: 10/25/2017

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents arrested two men for alleged oyster violations on Oct. 20 in St. Bernard Parish.

Agents arrested Martin Carbajal Jr., 28, of St. Bernard, and Bryan Neitzschman, 27, of Violet, for unlawfully taking oysters from a private lease and failing to have written permission.  Carbajal was also cited for violating the log book sanitation code.

Agents on patrol spotted a vessel around 10:30 a.m. being operated by Carbajal actively dredging for oysters in an area not leased to him.

Agents booked the men into the St. Bernard Parish Jail.  Agents seized one sack of oysters and returned them to the water.  Agents also seized one oyster dredge and placed a forfeiture order on Carbajal’s vessel.

Unlawfully taking oysters off a private lease and failure to have written permission carries up to a $950 fine and 120 days in jail.  Violating the log book sanitation code carries a $25 fine and up to 10 days in jail.

Agents participating in the case were Sr. Agent Blain Wagner, Patrick Dempsey and Chelsea Kling.

Monroe Woman Pleads Guilty to Shooting of LDWF Agent

Release Date: 10/25/2017

The woman who shot a Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agent in January of 2017 in Morehouse Parish pled guilty in court on Oct. 23.

Amethyst Baird, 31, of Monroe, who shot LDWF Senior Agent Tyler Wheeler, pled guilty in Bossier Parish court to attempted first degree murder of a police officer, obstruction of justice, illegal possession of a stolen vehicle and illegal possession of a stolen firearm.  Sentencing for Baird is scheduled for Jan. 26 at the Morehouse Parish Courthouse.

“We (LDWF) certainly welcome her guilty pleas for her heinous crimes.  Now we turn our attention to the sentencing date and hope that justice continues to get served for Tyler, his family, and his fellow agents that serve with him,” said Col. Sammy Martin, head of the LDWF Enforcement Division.

Senior Agent Wheeler, 25, was shot four times including once in the head and once in the back while questioning Baird around 2 a.m. on Jan. 7 on Hwy. 165 between Sterlington and Bastrop in Morehouse Parish.

After numerous surgeries and countless hours of physical therapy, Wheeler was cleared to return to full time duty in late July.  Wheeler’s first day back in uniform was Aug. 4 and he went through a week of in-service training before beginning his first week of patrol duties on Aug. 14.

Jeremy Gullette, 34, of Monroe, who was arrested for one count of accessory after the fact to attempted first-degree murder for his alleged role in this case, is still awaiting trial at this time.

LDWF Names New Lieutenant Colonel

Release Date: 10/17/2017

Col. Sammy Martin and Lt. Col. Spencer Cole

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has promoted a Pineville native to a Lieutenant Colonel position within the Enforcement Division.

Spencer Cole was promoted from Major to Lieutenant Colonel on Oct. 10.  Lt. Col. Cole will oversee the administrative side of the enforcement division which includes budget, training, boating safety program, emergency services, statewide strike force, public information, quartermaster, communications and aviation sections among other duties.

“This is a very important position for the enforcement division and one that I know very well having served in it for the past three years,” said Col. Sammy Martin.  “I have the utmost respect and confidence in Lt. Col. Cole.  I feel that he will be able to transition very smoothly into his new duties as he has a very good working knowledge of all the different aspects of this position already.”

Lt. Col. Cole graduated from Buckeye High School in 1993 and then served six years in the U.S. National Guard.  Cole graduated from the LDWF Cadet Academy in 1999 and was assigned to patrol Claiborne Parish before transferring to Rapides Parish in 2001.

In 2008 Cole was assigned to the training academy in Baton Rouge and promoted to sergeant.  Then later in 2008 he was transferred to headquarters to oversee the newly developed Homeland and Maritime Security programs and all hazard responses where he developed the LDWF’s first ever five year maritime security plan and created LDWF’s maritime security response team (MSRT).

Cole was appointed the director of training and emergency services and promoted to lieutenant in 2010 where he helped LDWF develop the nation’s first accredited NASBLA BOAT program.

In 2012 he was promoted to captain with the added duties of MSRT and BOAT program coordinator.  Cole then took on the duties of captain of the Pineville Office in 2013 and was in charge of patrolling Sabine, Vernon, Natchitoches, Winn, Grant, Rapides, Lasalle, Catahoula, Concordia and Avoyelles parishes with over 20 agents under his command.

In 2014 he transferred back to headquarters where he was promoted to major and put over the bureau of operations section responsible for emergency services, training, communications, quartermaster, fleet, public information, budget and boating safety.

“This is a great honor to be promoted and I will continue to do my best to further the enforcement division’s mission into the future,” said Lt. Col. Cole.  “I feel my career experiences has made me very suitable for this new position.”

Sulphur Man Arrested for 87 Counts of Violating Charter Guide Regulations

Release Date: 10/17/2017

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents arrested a Sulphur man for alleged violation of charter fishing guide violations on Oct. 12 in Cameron Parish.

Agents arrested Devon K. Fontenot, 22, for 87 counts of failing to comply with charter boat regulations and booked him into the Cameron Parish Jail.

Agents cited Fontenot on July 28 in Calcasieu Lake and Aug. 4 near the Cameron Jetties for failing to comply with charter boat regulations.  Agents found Fontenot on both of these days operating a charter guide fishing service without the required charter guide fishing license.

On Aug. 11 agents were able to contact Fontenot’s employer who furnished agents with logs of charter guide fishing trips Fontenot made in 2017.  In total, Fontenot made an additional 87 charter guide fishing trips for which he was never cited and without possessing a charter guide fishing license in 2017.

During the course of the investigation agents were able to determine that Fontenot did not possess a charter guide license until Aug. 16 of 2017.

Failing to comply with charter guide fishing regulations brings a $400 to $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail for each count.

Agents participating in the case are Sgt. David Sanford, Sgt. Stuart Guillory, Senior Agent Michael Hebert and Agent Dylan Egan.

Agent Rescues Two People From Lake Salvador

Release Date: 10/15/2017

A Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agent rescued two people from a sinking vessel in Lake Salvador on Oct. 14.

LDWF Lt. Jason Russo received a call around 5 p.m. from the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office about a capsized vessel in Lake Salvador and two individuals in the water without personal flotation devices.

Lt. Russo then contacted LDWF Agent Joshua Laviolette, who was on patrol in the area of the capsized vessel.

Agent Laviolette responded by boat and was able to locate and rescue the two 17-year-old males from Belle Chase from the water.   Agent Laviolette then transported the rescued individuals to a boat launch where family members were waiting.

According to the operator of the vessel they broke down in the middle of the lake and started to get swamped due to winds and large waves coming over the vessel.  There were no injuries involved in the incident.

Agents Cite Men For Recreational Fishing Violations

Release Date: 10/12/2017

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents cited two men for alleged recreational fishing violations on Oct. 5.

Agents cited Joel A. Tyler, 50, of Lena, and Le Chien 38, of Folsom, for possession of undersized spotted sea trout.  Tyler was also cited for possession of over the limit of spotted sea trout.  Chien was also cited for angling without basic and saltwater fishing licenses.

Agents were on patrol on Hwy. 1 between Port Fourchon and Grand Isle when they spotted the two subjects fishing off the side of the road.  Agents found Tyler in possession of 32 spotted sea trout with four of those being undersized.  Agents found Chien in possession of 217 sand trout, 22 croakers and four spotted seatrout with one being undersized.  Chien also did not possess basic or saltwater fishing licenses.

Licensed fishermen are allowed 25 spotted seatrout per person per day in this area and they must be at least 12 inches long.

Taking over the limit and undersized spotted sea trout each brings a $100 to $350 fine and up to 30 days in jail.  Angling without basic or saltwater fishing licenses each carries up to a $50 fine and 15 days in jail.

Tyler may also face civil restitution totaling $925.12 for the replacement value of the spotted sea trout.

Chien may also be responsible for civil restitution totaling $1,061 for the replacement value of the sand trout, croakers and spotted sea trout.

Agents seized the fish and donated them to a local charity.

Agents participating in the case are Sgt. Nicholas Guillory, Corporal Ronnie Engelhard and Agent Jonathan Morrison.

Cast Netters Cited On Rockefeller Refuge for Shrimping Violations

Release Date: 10/10/2017

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents cited several recreational shrimpers on the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge in Vermilion and Cameron parishes over the past several days.

Extra patrols were coordinated near Rollover and Joseph’s Harbor in response to complaints of cast netters violating refuge regulations and selling some of the catch.

On Sept. 30 agents cited Philip K. Breaux, 62, of Youngsville for selling shrimp that he caught from the refuge.

On Oct. 5 agents cited Justin R. Choate, 42, of Pecan Island, and Jonathan Goudeaux, 54, of Lafayette, were each cited for taking over the limit of shrimp.

Agents cited Rodney L. Broussard, 62, and Brenda L. Broussard, 54, both from Henderson, Nicholas J. Touchet, 37, of Abbeville, Barrett Beraud, 38, of Maurice, and Jason S. Royston, 45, of Lafayette, for entering the refuge before legal sunrise on Oct. 6.  Also on Oct. 6, agents cited Steven D. Johnson, 39, and Gerald J. Constantin, 66, both from Rayne, and Bernard J. Constantin, 64, of Crowley, for taking over the limit of shrimp.

On Oct. 8 agents cited Woodrow J. Goodly, 64, of Lafayette, and Philip R. Duos, 50 of Crowley, for taking over the limit of shrimp.

Agents seized a total of 228.5 pounds of shrimp in connection with the over limit violations and donated them to a local charity.

Cast netters are not allowed on the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge before legal sunrise and are allowed 25 pounds of shrimp per day during an inside open shrimp season.  The shrimp can only be used for personal consumption or bait for sport fishing.

Selling fish caught recreationally brings a $400 to $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail.  In addition, a person shall forfeit his fishing license, and he shall not be issued a recreational license of any type and shall be barred from participating in any type of recreational fishing for a period of one year from the date of conviction.

Taking over the limit of shrimp or entering the refuge before legal sunrise carries a $100 to $350 fine and up to 60 days in jail for each offense.

Body of Alexandria Man Recovered from Lake Buhlow

Release Date: 10/06/2017

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents are investigating a fatal single vessel boating incident that took place in Rapides Parish on Oct. 5.

Agents are investigating the death of Philip Brandt III, 62, of Alexandria, after he was found in Lake Buhlow next to a red kayak.

Boaters in the area located the body of Brandt around 4:30 p.m. and called for help.  Brandt was pronounced dead on the scene and his body was turned over to the Rapides Parish Coroner’s Office to determine an official cause of death.

A red kayak and a paddle belonging to Brandt were found about 100 yards from his body.  His body was found without a personal flotation device.

Louisiana Operation Game Thief, Inc. Issued $2,900 in Rewards At Meeting

Release Date: 10/06/2017

Louisiana Operation Game Thief, Inc. (LOGT), a Louisiana wildlife crime-stoppers program, awarded $2,900 to diligent citizens statewide at their quarterly meeting on Oct. 5 in Woodworth.

The LOGT board reviewed six cases that included public tips from informants.  A total of 20 subjects were apprehended and a total of 28 offenses were written in regards to the reviewed cases.

The cases reviewed and awarded money to the public for their assistance consisted of two alligator cases, a whooping crane case, a deer case, a dove baiting case and a migratory waterfowl case.

Anyone wishing to report wildlife or fisheries violations should anonymously call LDWF’s 24-hour toll free Operation Game Thief hotline at 1-800-442-2511 or utilize LDWF's tip411 program.  To use the tip411 program, tipsters can text LADWF and their tip to 847411 or download the "LADWF Tips" iPhone and Android apps.

LOGT was instituted in 1984 and provides cash rewards for information leading to the arrest of violators of fish and wildlife regulations.  Funds are raised through private donations, court directed contributions and through contributions from cooperative endeavor agreements with organizations such as the National Wild Turkey Federation and Quality Deer Management Association.

To make a donation to the LOGT that can be used for cash rewards, please contact Lt. Will Roberts at wroberts@wlf.la.gov.

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