Death Threat Nails Dodge County Poacher
After more than two years, rampant-poaching case finally concludes.
The ringleader of a group of poachers operating in and around Dodge County pleaded guilty to 13 counts and was handed a stiff sentence Oct. 4, 2011 after the assistant district attorney handling the case reportedly threatened felony charges stemming from a separate incident.
William Stacey Jones and an accomplice, Mary Michelle Warren, both of Eastman, pleaded guilty to the charges before their trial date. They had entered a not guilty plea in February, when five other individuals involved in the case pleaded guilty in an arrangement that stipulated they testify against Jones and Warren.
The case, which began with the investigation of a single poached turkey in June 2009, grew to reveal widespread night hunting, turkey poaching and other wildlife violations by seven individuals in Dodge and Laurens counties.
“I think our prosecutor got tired of playing games with him, and he was fixing to nail him with a felony,” said DNR Cpl. Johnny Ashe, who along with several other officers helped break the case.
Cordele Circuit Assistant District Attorney Matthew Brown, who handled the case after the Oconee Circuit DA recused himself, did not return phone calls for comment. However, several reputable local sources report Jones entered the guilty plea after Brown threatened felony witness intimidation charges for a separate incident in which Jones allegedly accosted an Eastman man on Sept. 11.
According to incident reports of a terroristic threats complaint filed with the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office, Jones threatened to kill a man in a hunting property dispute. The man was a potential witness in the original poaching case.
According to the man’s statement, Jones told the man, he had “(messed) up his hunting for the last time.” The man also complained that Jones had grabbed his arm and threatened his life.
“He proceeded to tell me that if he caught me on my land riding around that I would not make it out alive,” read the man’s statement. “He also stated that when the time was right that he would take care of me and (name omitted).
“He proceeded to grab my arm and tell me that he would kill me, and that it might not be today or tomorrow, but that I would regret ever messing with him.”
The complainant also stated that Jones didn’t have permission to hunt the land in question, that the property owner had given the complainant permission to pole and cable the property to keep people out.
William Stacy Jones, of Eastman, pleaded guilty to 13 counts that included hunting at night, hunting from a public road, hunting without permission, unlawful possession of wildlife, unlawful hunting of birds, hunting without a license, hunting out of season for turkeys and failure to record deer harvest. Jones was sentenced to pay fines and restitution of $7,050; five years probation, two to be served on active status; and a four-year suspension of hunting privileges. As a condition of his probation, Jones may not have a firearm outside his home for a period of two years.
Mary Michelle Warren pleaded guilty to hunting at night. Warren was sentenced to pay fines of $750, a two-year suspension of hunting privileges and 12 months probation.
“It is a conclusion that we are glad seeing coming,” said Cpl. Ashe. “It has been several years of working on this thing.”
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