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Three sentenced to probation for harvesting deer illegally on Fort Riley grounds

By TIM HRENCHIR | The Topeka Capital-Journal | Published: February 10, 2021

(Tribune News Service) — Three men were recently sentenced to each serve three years of unsupervised probation and pay fines and restitution after they illegally harvested eight whitetail deer, three of them trophy class, on the grounds of Fort Riley.

U.S. Attorney for Kansas Stephen McAllister said in a news release Tuesday that Gregory J. Frikken, James C. Nunley and Michael J. Smith were sentenced after pleading guilty to federal charges of illegally hunting whitetail deer on a part of Fort Riley where explosives are discharged during training exercises.

The three admitted they trespassed on federal property and illegally harvested trophy whitetail deer from that property, all in violation of the federal Lacey Act, McAllister said.

Federal court records show Smith was sentenced Nov. 9, Frikken on Jan. 11 and Nunley on Feb. 4.

Those records show that in addition to being placed on probation, Frikken and Nunley were each fined $5,000 and ordered to pay $3,500 in restitution while Smith was fined $2,000 and ordered to pay $3,500 in restitution.

The three will have no hunting privileges for three years and will forfeit all property seized as part of the investigation, McAllister said.

"These hunters entered an area of Fort Riley which is off limits and not open for hunting," he said. "They entered a prohibited area of the Army base, knowing the area was off limits, for the sole purpose of illegally taking large deer as trophies."

The three committed that crime for several years, entering before daylight and leaving after dark through a "washout" where a creek went under a perimeter fence, McAllister said.

"Their behavior was not only unlawful and selfish, it was potentially dangerous to themselves and thus also foolish," McAllister said. "Trespassing on a federal military base is a serious error of judgment, and unlawfully killing trophy deer undermines hunting and hunters who abide by the rules."

Investigators seized evidence that included deer mounts, antlers, phone data and equipment allegedly used to harvest eight whitetail deer, three of which were considered trophy class, McAllister said.

He said investigating agencies involved included the Directorate of Emergency Services at Fort Riley, the Fort Riley Game Warden, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, the New York State Environmental Conservation Office-Office of Law and U.S. Fish and Wildlife.

The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robin A. Graham and Taylor Rafaly.

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