State reduces charges against Palmer taxidermist

Posted: Monday, January 27, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A Palmer taxidermist charged with illegally selling Alaska big game trophies nearly two years ago now faces reduced charges in state court.

Shawn McCrary, who originally faced misdemeanor charges, has had his charges reduced to the level of a violation, the same as a traffic ticket. Along with removing the case from a jury, the change means McCrary faces a maximum penalty of $300 on each count instead of a year in jail and a $1,000 fine on each count.

Nevertheless, he pleaded not guilty Friday to counts of selling the trophies plus two new counts of selling bear parts and selling caribou antlers with attached skull plate. The case will be heard before a district judge, said Lance Wells, McCrary's attorney.

The case began in June 2001, when Alaska State Troopers said McCrary sold bison, caribou, mountain goat, brown bear and wolf mounts to undercover state Fish and Wildlife Protection investigators posing as Seattle restaurateurs. It is illegal to sell trophies without a state permit.

State authorities say they just want the case to be over.

''We're just looking for a quick resolution to something that should have been done long ago,'' said Alaska State Trooper Doug Massie, a fish and wildlife officer.

McCrary told the Anchorage Daily News the state just wants to avoid a jury trial.

The state's case is weak and Massie has lied during the investigation, he said. The case is motivated by retaliation because several years ago he was a whistle-blower against the state-sanctioned practice of auctioning bear claws at Fur Rendezvous, an annual Anchorage festival, McCrary said.

Wells said in court Friday that the FBI is looking into McCrary's claim that his civil rights were violated. Eric Gonzalez, an FBI special agent in Anchorage, said the agency is aware of McCrary's complaint. He would not confirm or deny an investigation, citing FBI policy.

Col. Joel Hard, head of the troopers' fish and wildlife protection unit in Anchorage, said McCrary's allegations of perjury against Massie are false and will be proved false in court.

''This has been an aggravation for a lot of people,'' Hard said.

Neither Massie nor Hard has been approached by the FBI, both said.

The defense claims troopers are lying because they have never produced the mounted mountain goat that would prove a sale. The state contends that McCrary promised to sell a goat to an undercover trooper and even though the goat was not delivered, that constitutes a sale.

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