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Three Orangeburg Men Sentenced for Killing Hawks at South Carolina Hunting
Preserve

*Columbia, South Carolina *---- United States Attorney William N. Nettles
stated today that three Orangeburg men, Charles Williams, age 66, John
Dantzler, age 66, and Jimmie Aiken, age 57, and Alejandro Renteria Noyola,
age 56, were sentenced today by United States Magistrate Judge Shiva
Hodges, sitting in Charleston, South Carolina.  The defendants entered
guilty pleas to offenses involving the unlawful trapping and killing of
migratory birds at Willcreek, a 1,790-acre tract of land in Orangeburg
County owned by Willcreek LLC.  Charles Williams, the registered agent for
Willcreek LLC, pled guilty to 7 counts of killing Red-tailed or Cooper’s
Hawks during 2013 and 2014; the remaining defendants were each named in a
single count. Trapping and killing hawks without a permit is a violation of
the Migratory Bird Treaty Act under Title 16, United States Code, Section
703, and carried a maximum prison term of six months and a fine of up to
$15,000, or both, for each count of conviction.

Judge Hodges fined Williams $75,000, imposed 50 hours of community service
at a birds-of-prey center, and banned him from hunting for a year.  Aiken
and Dantzler were each fined $1,000 and were also banned from hunting for a
year.

Luis Santiago, Special Agent-in-Charge, Southeast Region, U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service said of today’s plea and sentencing: “This case is an
excellent example of the cooperative investigative efforts between the
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, and the U.S. Fish &
Wildlife Service, and each agency’s strong commitment to investigate
violations of wildlife laws. Migratory birds are a trust responsibility of
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. We greatly appreciate our state and
local partners in law enforcement, and the support of the U.S. Attorney's
Office in prosecuting those who violate federal wildlife laws and holding
them accountable for their actions. The plea and sentencing today is a
success in our collective efforts to conserve migratory birds and other
wildlife.”

Mr. Nettles stated, “The statute and the indictment in this case recognize
that these majestic birds-of-prey are an important link in our ecosystem.
Killing these hawks in order to improve sporting conditions for weekend
hunters is not only unsportsman-like, it is illegal and comes at the cost
of our wildlife resources.  The Court’s imposition of a substantial fine is
in line with the seriousness of the offense and defendants’ cruel treatment
of the birds-of-prey they killed.”

The case was investigated by agents of the United States Fish and Wildlife
Service Office of Law Enforcement and the South Carolina Department of
Natural Resources.  The investigation began in November of 2013 based on a
tip from the DNR Operation Game Thief Hotline and culminated with the
execution of a search warrant at Willcreek on February 21, 2014.  During
the course of the investigation, agents seized more than thirty raptor
carcasses from Willcreek.

Assistant United States Attorney Eric Klumb of the Charleston office
prosecuted the case.

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