Hunters Make Deal in 1998 Moose Case


Dan Rice, Staff Writer / Fairbanks Daily News-Miner / December 24, 2003


Two New Mexico hunting guides and taxidermists face fines and two years probation after reaching plea agreements in a case charging them with federal violations during a 1998 hunt with a Fairbanks guide.

Michael Y. Archuleta, 41, and Jeff B. Clem, 30, each pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges in a case that saw federal and state authorities spend three years reconstructing an eight-person hunt in the Chandalar River area in northern Alaska.

Archuleta and Clem were part of a crew led by Fairbanks guide David Bridges on a hunt for moose and brown bear in September 1998, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Cooper. Archuleta and Clem were charged with transporting to New Mexico two moose trophies that other clients shot in excess of their bag limit and participating in efforts to cover up the violation.

The trophies eventually were treated at Archuleta's taxidermy shop, where Clem also works, Cooper said.


A grand jury indicted the men on one count of conspiracy and one count of sale and transportation of unlawfully taken wildlife. The charges carry a maximum of one year in jail and a $100,000 fine.

But in plea agreements, the prosecution reduced the charges to a lesser form and agreed to less severe penalties. Archuleta will receive a $5,000 fine and two years probation, while Clem will receive a $3,000 fine and two years probation.

Both men entered the agreements while participating in a hearing via teleconference from New Mexico. Although the plea agreements already outline the sentence the men will receive, they are scheduled to be formally sentenced on April 2.

The filing of the charges against them in federal court followed a case brought against Bridges in state court. Bridges, the guide, was charged with two counts of failure to report a violation, two counts of falsifying business records and three counts of committing a violation.

Those charges relate both to the hunt that Archuleta and Clem participated in and an unrelated hunt earlier in the summer in which Bridges was accused of not reporting one of his client's shooting a sheep that was under the legal size.

Court records indicate that Bridges pleaded guilty to all the charges soon after the case was filed. He received a $25,000 fine, the revocation of his guiding license for a year, one year of probation and 80 hours of community service.

A charging document in Bridges' case states that authorities began investigating the men when an assistant guide who was on the hunt mentioned the sheep shooting incident to an Alaska State Trooper during a casual conversation in 2000.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Special Agent Corky Roberts said the number of defendants in the case led to the delay in filing charges.

Reporter Dan Rice can be reached at drice@newsminer.com or 459-7503.

 


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