Deer man cleared of charges

Posted: Tuesday, April 10, 2001

OLD FORGE, N.Y. (AP) -- When 83-year-old Andy Bozek got the phone call, relief swept across his face.

''I was so happy,'' Bozek said. ''I haven't been getting no sleep. During the night, sometimes I get maybe three hours. But I've slept pretty good since I heard this. I'm awful glad the harassment is over with.''

Bozek, who was ticketed for feeding deer too close to a highway at the edge of this Adiron-dack Mountain hamlet, was cleared of the charges March 13, and since then the phone in his Utica home has been ringing off the hook.

''He's a free man, and he's very happy,'' his wife, Agnes, said. ''He had a smile from ear to ear. Now maybe he'll be able to sleep. It really bothered him.''

Attorney Norman Deep, who represented Bozek, said the case was dismissed because there was no formal response from Herki-mer County District Attorney Michael Daly.

''The trial would have shown just how stupid the DEC is,'' Deep said. ''The officer didn't use common sense. He ticketed him twice. It's malicious, ridiculous.''

The issue arose in 1998 when state Department of Environmen-tal Conservation Officer Paul McHale first ticketed Bozek. The statute, which was enacted in 1997 to decrease car-deer collisions, bans feeding deer within 300 feet of a public roadway.

Bozek's camp sits on a bend near the end of Indian Point Road, a 16-foot-wide dead end with a 15 mph speed limit. Because of the bend, his camp is about 10 feet too close, making it illegal for him to feed the deer, even though his neighbors can.

Bozek lost the court case involving his first summons and paid a $25 fine but won on appeal for lack of evidence.

Daly said he made a motion for dismissal of the second case in the interest of justice based on an investigation of the intent of the law.

Bozek said he wasn't sure what his furry friends thought, but he made the 110-mile round-trip to old Forge to see them and spread the news.

''There was only about seven of them out there today,'' Bozek said. ''I told them, 'Now you can eat again, so get fat.' They were getting pretty thin.''

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