Colorado Outfitter Loses Registered Status and Fined Big Money
A longtime Parker outfitter and three out-of-state clients have been fined almost $40,000 after pleading guilty to illegally hunting deer, including a trophy white-tail buck, on the high plains of eastern Colorado.
The investigation by law enforcement officers with the Colorado Division of Wildlife centered on outfitter Thomas E. Tietz, 56, and involved incidents that occurred in Lincoln and Elbert counties from 2006 to 2008.
According to the DOW, Tietz accepted $5,000 each from three friends in the fall of 2008 for guided hunts. All three clients engaged in "party hunting," where one individual would place their carcass tag on an animal shot by another, resulting in the illegal transfer of a license. One of the clients hunted outside of the game management unit where her license was valid. As their guide, Tietz was complicit in these violations.
Steve Yamashita, DOW's Northeast Regional Manager, said most outfitters are ethical and diligent about following Colorado wildlife regulations.
"Commercial outfitters have a professional obligation to see that their clients obey Colorado hunting regulations," Yamashita said. "Mr. Tietz put profit before ethics and stole from other hunters the opportunity to harvest those deer legally.
On Oct. 15, Tietz pleaded guilty to three counts of illegal possession of wildlife in Lincoln County Court in Hugo. One of the charges to which Tietz pleaded guilty carried a $10,000 Samson surcharge for the killing of a trophy white-tail. Tietz also pleaded guilty to a separate count alleging he was responsible for the illegal take of three or more deer.
Tietz was fined $13,750 and was placed on supervised probation for two years. He also faces the lifetime loss of his hunting and fishing privileges in Colorado and 34 other states that are cooperators in the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact.
In exchange for Tietz's guilty pleas, prosecutors agreed to drop numerous additional charges, including a fourth count of illegal possession of wildlife, illegal sale of wildlife, tampering with physical evidence and illegal transfer of hunting licenses. He is no longer a registered outfitter in Colorado.
Two other defendants, Thomas W. Franks, 56, of Harrisburg, Ill., and Amy S. Word, 35, of Newburgh, Ind., pleaded guilty in November 2009 to three counts of illegal possession of wildlife, including Samson violations, also under agreements that resulted in the dismissal of numerous other charges. Each was fined $11,968.50.
The fourth defendant, 57-year-old Blaise Pignotti of St. Louis, Mo., pleaded guilty to two counts of illegal possession of wildlife in July, 2009. Pignotti was fined $1,968.50.
This week, three hunting rifles surrendered by the defendants as part of their plea agreements were donated to the Lincoln County Sheriff's Department, the Elbert County Sheriff's Department and the Limon Police Department.
For more information on outfitting in Colorado, including tips on selecting a guide, please see: wildlife.state.co.us/Hunting/ElkHuntingUniversity/EHULessons/EHUOutfitter.htm