A Sutter County man is facing a big fine and possible prison sentence after a federal judge found him guilty of various hunting crimes involving a January 2013 duck hunt.
After a one-day bench trial, Jeffrey A. Catlett, 35, was found guilty today by United States Magistrate Judge Kendall J. Newman of violations of the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced. The judge found Catlett guilty of one count of possession of migratory game birds belonging to another that were untagged, one count of exceeding the possession limit of ducks, one count of exceeding the possession limit of pintail ducks, and one count of exceeding the possession limit of dark geese.
According to evidence produced at trial, on January 16, 2013, wardens began investigating a group of hunters who were reportedly shooting into a group of geese, killing and wounding a large number of them in a field off of South Butte House Road in Sutter County. Later that same day, Catlett was found to be in possession of a large number of waterfowl, well beyond the possession limits. According to court documents, Catlett claimed to have shot three geese himself but was found to have been in possession of 175 ducks, 41 pintail ducks, and 39 dark geese.
Evidence presented at trial also established that Catlett attempted to conceal the scope of the conduct. Eleven other defendants pleaded guilty prior to trial to violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Catlett was the last remaining defendant.
This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara G. Borkowski is prosecuting the case.
Catlett is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Newman on October 23, 2013. Catlett faces a maximum sentence of six months in prison and a $15,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.