Outfitter sentenced for illegal guide services

By Observer Upload October 24, 2012 02:29 pm

A Summerville man has been convicted in a Washington District Court for providing illegal guide services on the Umatilla National Forest.

On Oct. 19, Michael C. Ormsby, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that Jon C. Wick, age 46, of Summerville, was sentenced for criminal offenses relating to outfitter-guiding services provided on the Umatilla National Forest in 2007, 2008 and 2011. 

Wick had pleaded guilty to three Class B misdemeanor offenses. After three U.S. Forest Service officers testified at the sentencing hearing, Chief District Court Judge Peterson sentenced Wick to a two-year term of probation, with the following special conditions: that he not engage in any commercial activity in any National Forest; that he not apply for a special use permit to engage in such activity; and that he not accompany anyone else engaged in such activities. 

In addition, the Chief Judge imposed a total of $3,500 in fines and $1,020 in restitution for unpaid fees owed to the Forest Service.

Documents presented in court revealed that in 2007 Todd L. Reichert, age 72, a hunter from Salkum, Wash., purchased the Any Bull-Elk Governor’s Auction Tag (known as a “Governor’s Tag”) for approximately $47,000. Reichert hired Wick, who operated an outfitter-guiding service known as Outback Outfitters, to provide outfitter-guiding services for the hunt. 

Reichert also hired a helicopter service that Wick used to spot elk in aide of the hunt, which is unlawful in Washington State. 

In December 2007, Wick assisted Reichert in killing an elk in the Umatilla National Forest outside of the area in which the Forest Service had authorized Wick to provide outfitter-guiding services. Wick initially claimed that he provided his services to Reichert for no money.

A subsequent Forest Service investigation revealed instead that Reichert had made substantial payments to Wick in 2007, including a $5,000 check written in November 2007. The check contained a notation indicating that it was for an “elk hunt.”

In 2008, Wick again provided professional services in the Umatilla National Forest to the purchaser of the 2008 Governor’s Tag, which cost approximately $65,000. At that time, Wick did not have Forest Service authorization to provide the guiding services. 

In 2011, Wick again provided professional services on the Umatilla National Forest in support of an elk hunt without Forest Service authorization.

A federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Washington returned an indictment charging Wick with several felony and misdemeanor offenses relating to the 2007 and 2008 elk hunts. Wick was further charged by information in the district of Oregon with providing a “drop camp” and related elk-hunting services on the Umatilla National Forest without a special use authorization in relation to a 2011 elk hunt.

In June Wick entered guilty pleas to providing guiding services outside of the area designated in his special use permit and to providing a service without a special use authorization. Both offenses related to Wick’s indictment in the Eastern District of Washington. 

In August the information filed against Wick in the district of Oregon was transferred to the Eastern District of Washington for further proceedings. On Oct. 19 Wick entered a guilty plea and was sentenced for all three offenses. Each of these offenses are class B misdemeanors.

Ormsby said, “This office is committed to prosecuting individuals who violate the permitting process and the laws designed to protect our natural resources. This office will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners.”

The case was investigated by the United States Forest Service, the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The case was prosecuted by Timothy J. Ohms, Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.