Pennsylvania Repeat Offender First to Receive Jail Time Under New Poaching Law

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Anthony Mark Marasco, 38, who resides in Cheswick, Allegheny County, was sentenced to pay more than $4,750 in fines and serve two 90-day concurrent prison sentences after being convicted of his fourth poaching-related offense in 13 years, according to Pennsylvania Game Commission officials. Marasco is the first to be sentenced to prison under the new fines and penalties for poaching that took effect in September.

Game Commission Wildlife Conservation Officer (WCO) Dan Puhala filed charges against Marasco in the office of District Judge Elissa M. Lang, in Sharpsburg. On Jan. 20, Lang found Marasco guilty of the following:

Unlawfully killing big game (turkey) over the limit, for which the judge assessed a fine of $1,500 and 90 days imprisonment;

Unlawfully hunting while on license revocation, for which the judge assessed a fine of $1,500 and 90 days imprisonment;

Unlawfully shooting on or across a highway, for which the judge assessed a fine of $300;

Unlawfully hunting from a vehicle, for which the judge assessed a fine of $500; and

Unlawfully taking or possessing game, for which the judge assessed a fine of $450, which is the result this most recent offense being a second and/or subsequent violation within a seven-year period.

Also, under the "enhanced penalties" section of the Game and Wildlife Code, Judge Lang added an additional $500 to the total fines, of which the witness is eligible for a $250 reward.<

Marasco's most recent incident in November was preceded by three deer-related convictions, beginning in 1997, followed by convictions in 2003 and 2007.

"The habitual nature of Marasco's poaching offenses left little room for leniency," Puhala said.

On Nov. 6, as WCO Puhala and Deputy WCO Art Harencame were on patrol, they were contacted by the Fox Chapel Police Department, who had stopped an apparent turkey poacher based on an anonymous tip.

"When we arrived on scene, Marasco was in his truck, along with his bow and some arrows, and was returning to the scene to pick up the turkey he had just shot with his compound bow along Trillium Lane in Fox Chapel," WCO Puhala said. "We found that he saw the flock of turkeys from his truck, got out and shot a hen from the road, then left the area to return a short time later.

"Marasco has had his hunting privileges suspended for his previous game law violations, and remained on revocation for failure to pay more than $800 in fines assessed for offenses dating back to 1997."

The law to increase fines and penalties for poaching was made possible by House Bill 1859, which was sponsored by House Game and Fisheries Committee Chairman Edward G. Staback. The bill was approved by the House on July 21, 2009, by a vote of 196-3. The Senate, after making minor adjustments to the bill, approved the measure unanimously on July 3, 2010, followed by a 189-6 concurrence vote in the House also on July 3. The bill was signed into law on July 9, making it Act 54 of 2010.