2014-03-06 / Front Page

Men charged in cougar killing case

Two of three enter plea deals, get sentences

MANISTIQUE – Three downstate men were arraigned in 93rd District Court Wednesday on charges relating to their alleged involvement in a cougar killing. The cougar was found illegally killed in early December in Schoolcraft County.

The first suspect, Troy Robert Richard, 42, of Bay City Mich., was charged with one count of killing, torturing, mutilating, maiming, or disfiguring an animal, a felony punishable by up to four years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000; one count of lying to a peace officer, a high court misdemeanor punishable by up to two years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000; one count of endangered species: taking/possessing/buying/ selling, a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000; and one count of conspiracy to commit endangered species: taking/possessing/buying/ selling, a misdemeanor punishably by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

District Court Judge Mark E. Luoma said the Richard allegedly lied to the DNR office conducting the investigation of the cougar killing, saying that he did not see or shoot the cougar and that the cougar was “chopped up with an ax and disposed of piece by piece down multiple back roads.”

Richard was scheduled for a preliminary examination in 11th Judicial Circuit Court. He indicated he would be hiring his own attorney “if need be”.

Richard’s personal recognizance bond was continued.

The second suspect, Todd Anthony Richard, 44, of Burt, Mich., was charged with one count of endangered species: taking/possessing/ buying/selling, a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Todd Richard entered a plea of not guilty with the court, indicating he would retain an attorney. The matter will be set for trial at a later date.

The last suspect, Theodore Robert Richard, 68, of Munger, Mich., was charged with one count of a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Theodore Richard also entered a plea of not guilty, with a trial date to be set in the near future.

Following the hearings Wednesday, Schoolcraft County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Noble indicated the Richards men would like to meet with him without an attorney. Later in the afternoon that same day, plea deals were arranged for Troy Richard and Theodore Richard.

Counts one and two: killing, torturing, mutilating, maiming, or disfiguring an animal; and one count of lying to a peace officer were dismissed. Richard pled guilty to counts three and four: endangered species: taking/possessing/ buying/selling and conspiracy to commit endangered species: taking/possessing/buying/selling. He was sentenced on both charges to 30 days in jail, with 190 days held in abeyance, pending completion of 24 months probation. Troy Richard was also ordered to serve 120 hours community service and to pay $2,275 in fines and costs and $3,500 in restitution.

Judge Luoma allowed Troy Richard to serve his jail sentence and complete community service in the Bay County Jail.

Theodore Richard pled guilty to one count of endangered species: taking/possessing/buying/selling.

He was sentenced to 30 days in jail, which will be held in abeyance pending successful completion of 24 months probation.

Theodore Richard was also ordered to pay $1,725 in fines and costs and had his hunting privileges revoked for 2014 and 2015.

Anyone with information about poaching is encouraged to call the DNR’s Report All Poaching hotline at (800) 292- 7800, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Information can also be reported online at www.michigan.gov/conservationofficers.

Tips and information can be left anonymously; information that leads to an arrest and conviction is eligible for a cash reward funded by the state’s Game and Fish Protection Fund.

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