Georgia DNR Charges 7 With Poaching

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Georgia Department of Natural Resources officers charged seven people with a total of 113 poaching-related counts in Dodge and Laurens counties this week.

The investigation sparked by complaints and started in March resulted in search warrants served at the Rentz home of Michael Warren and a home and cabin owned by William Stacy Jones of Eastman on May 18. Evidence seized varied from computers to animal parts, said Sgt. Keith Byers of the DNR's Wildlife Resources Division. The counts range from hunting deer at night to possession of illegally taken wildlife, hunting out of season and taking over the bag limit. Most involved deer or turkeys.

"In my 28 years (with the division), I've never seen anything like this," Byers said of the amount of evidence and scope of violations.

Those charged were William Stacy Jones, 31, of Eastman (70 charges); Mary Michelle Warren, 28, of Eastman (17 charges); Michael Warren, 30, of Rentz (nine charges); Cody Coleman, 21, of Marietta (six charges); Durwood "Trey" Graham III, 29, of Eastman (four charges); Summer Page, 28, of Rentz (four charges); and, Brandon Brisco, 31, of Eastman (three charges).

Each misdemeanor count carries a maximum penalty of up to a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail. Other charges are possible. Most were filed in Dodge County. Michael Warren faces five counts in Laurens County.

Byers said complaints about the suspects increased in February. An investigation was opened in March. Two months later, Cpl. Johnny Ashe and Rangers 1st Class Rodney Horne and Barry Britt served search warrants at the homes of William Stacy Jones and Michael Warren, leading to the arrests and the array of charges.

Byers explained that such investigations take time. Rangers spent hours working the case, sorting evidence and making charges. "When looking at evidence you have to basically connect the dots that lead you back to a suspect," Byers said. "In this case, there were a lot of dots to connect."

Bonds for the suspects range from $1,500 to $15,000.

Georgians can report game and fish violations by calling the TIP hotline, 1-800-241-4113, or by e-mailing TurnInPoachers@dnr.state.ga.us. For more information, visit www.georgiawildlife.com (select the TIP logo on the bottom of the home page), contact your local Wildlife Resources Division Law Enforcement office or call (770) 918-6414.