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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Texas man sentenced to 3 1/2 years in Kansas deer poaching case

BY MICHAEL PEARCE
The Wichita Eagle

WICHITA — A Texas man who operated an illegal hunting operation in Kansas was sentenced to 41 months and fined $50,000 today in U.S. District Court.

James B. Butler Jr., of Martinsville, Texas, owned and operated Camp Lone Star in Comanche County.

The business catered to out-of-state deer hunters hoping to shoot a trophy buck in Kansas.

The case against Butler and his brother, Marlin Butler, is thought to be the largest trophy deer poaching case in U.S. history. It included the poaching of about 120 deer by about 60 clients.

Marlin Butler, a guide at the camp, is scheduled to be sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court.

In March, James and Marlin Butler pleaded guilty to helping clients illegally kill 25 whitetail bucks.

Because the deer were transported over state lines after they were illegally shot, that led to felony charges under the Lacey Act.

James Butler also pleaded guilty to selling illegal deer permits to clients and assisting them in exceeding the state limit of one buck per year.

He also had pleaded guilty to a charge of obstruction of justice and conspiracy when he instructed an employee to dispose of mounted deer heads.

His initial plea agreement, which was accepted, was for 41 months in prison and about $50,000 in fines and restitution.

The Butlers were initially charged with 23 state and federal wildlife charges.

Dubbed Operation Cimarron, the case against the Butlers involved federal and state game wardens.

Charges may still be coming against the clients involved in illegally killing deer with the Butlers.

Reach Michael Pearce at 316-268-6382 or mpearce@wichitaeagle.com.

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