DUCHESNE — Three California men have been arraigned in 8th District Court on numerous counts of hunting law violations.
Authorities allege the four, who are friends and include a father and son, illegally purchased Utah resident hunting tags for perhaps as many as a dozen years during the general elk and deer seasons.
A Florida man is awaiting arraignment on similar charges.
Robert Spencer, 58, and Roger VanDuzer, 79, both of Marysville, Calif., appeared in court but waived the reading of the charges against them. John O'Neal, 72, also of Marysville, was too ill to travel for a court appearance. Each man is charged with multiple third-degree felony counts for wanton destruction of wildlife and class B misdemeanors for fraud for failing to obtain proper tags. All four men are represented by Provo attorney Trevor Zabriskie.
At their arraignment, Spencer and VanDuzer gave post office boxes in both Tabiona and Oakley, Utah, as their regular mailing addresses for the court to send all correspondence, according to court records.
State Division of Wildlife Resource conservation officer Jerry Schlappi said the charges only cover alleged incidents since 1999, but it's believed the men have been misrepresenting their residency for the past 10 to 12 years. In that time they may have illegally taken at least 23 deer and elk out of the Duchesne County area, he said.
Prosecutors say the men had a small trailer set up in the Hanna area and had a post office box in Hanna, in an attempt to show they were Utah residents. At the same time, they allegedly claimed resident status in California, where they lived, worked, registered their vehicles and took advantage of "home state exemptions," said Duchesne County Attorney Karen Allen.
The men reportedly aroused the suspicions of local residents, and someone notified state wildlife officials, who investigated possible improprieties and notified the Duchesne County Attorney's office.
"What they don't realize is that they are in a small community over a period of time, and people notice," Allen said.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Nov. 15 at 1:30 p.m.