Former Minnesota hunting guide guilty of Lacey Act violation
Claimed deer bagged at a Taylor County game farm was harvested elsewhere
Scott C. Blader, United States attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Jeff Althoff, 32, Greensboro, N.C., pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court in Madison to violating the Lacey Act by falsely labeling wildlife and transporting it across state lines. This charge carries maximum penalties of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine.
During the plea hearing, Althoff admitted that on Sept. 18, 2018, he falsely registered with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) that he had killed an adult antlered buck deer on Sept. 17, 2018 in Buffalo County by archery on public land. In fact, Althoff actually killed the adult antlered buck deer on private land at a game farm in Taylor County using a paid guide. As a result of the false registration with the DNR, the buck was deemed falsely labeled. Althoff then transported the animal to Pierce County and staged pictures with the animal to make it appear as if he had killed the animal on public land in Buffalo County. Althoff posted pictures of the 172 inch antlered buck on his Facebook page falsely alleging that he stalked the animal for hours, shot it at 32 yards, and that it took him four hours of solo dragging to get it back to his truck. As part of the offense, Althoff also transported the falsely labeled buck from Wisconsin to Minnesota.
As part of the plea agreement, Althoff has agreed to: pay a fine of $23,000 to the Lacey Act Reward Fund; obey a two-year ban on all hunting activities; and forfeit the items he used in the hunt, including all of the archery equipment and arrows, the range finder, and the cape and antlers.
U.S. magistrate judge Stephen L. Crocker scheduled Althoff’s sentencing for March 20, 2020, at 1:30 p.m.
The charges against Althoff are the result of an investigation conducted by law enforcement agents with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Bureau of Law enforcement, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The prosecution of this case has been handled by assistant United States attorney Daniel J. Graber.