United States Attorney Joe Kelly announced that Jacob Wideman, age 32, of Pevely, Missouri, was sentenced today in federal court in Omaha, Nebraska, by United States Magistrate Judge Michael D. Nelson for violating the Lacey Act. The Lacey Act prohibits the trafficking in interstate commerce “tainted” (i.e., taken in violation of a law or regulation) wildlife, fish, or indigenous plants. Wideman was convicted of one count of the illegal taking of wildlife in interstate commerce and sentenced to one year probation. Magistrate Judge Nelson ordered Wideman to pay $5,000 in restitution and a $5,000 fine. As part of his probation terms, Wideman shall not hunt, fish, trap, guide, outfit, or otherwise assist or be present in the field with anyone engaging in those activities.
An investigation determined that on October 4, 2017, Wideman traveled to HIDDEN HILLS OUTFITTERS (HHO), a commercial big game guiding and outfitting business located within the District of Nebraska, to conduct a mule deer hunt during the archery deer season. That same day, a Nebraska Non-resident Archery Deer Permit was issued electronically to Wideman by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission permit system. Wideman, with the assistance of HHO’s owner and an HHO guide, planned to pursue a trophy-sized mule deer in a large hilly pasture southeast of Purdum, Nebraska.
During the October 4, 2017 hunt, Wideman possessed a crossbow and a Sig Sauer rifle. After stalking on foot to within approximately 50 yards of the target deer, Wideman, with assistance from the HHO guides, retrieved his rifle and shot and killed the mule deer as prohibited by Nebraska law. After the kill, Wideman and the HHO guides recovered the deer skull, antlers, and cape, but needlessly abandoned and wasted the carcass containing the edible meat at the kill site in violation of Nebraska law.
On the evening of October 4, 2017, Wideman’s deer kill was submitted electronically to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission “Telecheck” registration system. Information submitted to the “Telecheck” registration system falsely indicated the “Weapon of Kill” was a “Crossbow” instead of “Firearm.” On October 5, 2017, Wideman transported the deer skull, antlers, and cape, from the Nebraska to Missouri.
The investigation further determined that Wideman purchased and obtained hunting and guiding services from HHO for the unlawful take of the mule deer by trading the cost of the hunt in exchange for Wideman previously providing HHO client referrals and hunting equipment.
The sentencing hearing today is part of the ongoing prosecution of numerous defendants related to violations committed by owners, guides, and clients of Hidden Hills Outfitters. To date, 30 defendants have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced and ordered to pay a total of $353,048 in fines and restitution for underlying violations related to deer taken within baited areas; deer, pronghorn, and wild turkeys taken with weapons or firearms prohibited during their respective hunting seasons; deer taken during closed season hours, from the road, or without a valid permit; and mule deer taken within the Mule Deer Conservation Area.
The operation was a joint investigation conducted by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Law Enforcement Division.