SALT LAKE CITY — Two large poaching cases in eastern Utah involving two sets of families and multiple family members are winding down after nearly two years.
Large bull elk, cow elk, deer and pheasants were killed in separate cases, including one in which officers found 40 pounds of Utah elk meat in a freezer in New York.
Officers with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources say they first found out about the poaching spree involving a convicted felon, Kenny Swenson Jr., on Sept. 23, 2016, after a tip was phoned into the Utah's Turn in a Poacher hotline.
The investigation revealed Swenson did not have a valid hunting license. He is accused of poaching a cow elk and pheasants in Duchesne County and a trophy bull elk near Strawberry Reservoir in Wasatch County.
Officers say he assisted his stepsons in killing two trophy elk and also buck deer in Uintah County. Some animals were tagged with fraudulently purchased Ute Tribe big game tags.
Swenson, according to wildlife officers, helped his wife, Marie, kill a large buck in Uintah County.
Upon his arrest in a traffic stop, Swenson had two handguns, meth, heroin, marijuana and some pills, officers said.
Subsequent execution of 14 search warrants, including at a recreational vehicle at Swenson's residence, revealed nearly 50 firearms officers say Swenson used in the poaching.
Last December, Swenson pleaded guilty to two third-degree felony charges of wanton destruction of wildlife. He was ordered to pay $16,000 to the Help Stop Poaching fund and sentenced to no more than five years in prison on each count. He also lost all hunting privileges for 28 years.
Other charges stemming from activity in Uintah County were dismissed because Swenson is in a federal prison in Oregon.
Marie Swenson pleaded guilty to a class B misdemeanor of wanton destruction of wildlife, was ordered to pay $400 to the poaching fund and lost her hunting privileges for three years.
In the other case, the Division of Wildlife Resources say William and Jennifer Thompson went on a poaching spree that also came to their attention in September 2016.
Multiple deer and elk were killed in the Tridell area of Uintah County.
As the investigation unfolded, officers learned that William Thompson admitted helping his wife's stepfather, George Walsh, kill a buck deer, doe deer and cow elk in Tridell.
Utah investigators contacted the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, which interviewed George Walsh at his home.
At first he denied killing anything in Utah, but changed that story when officers found 40 pounds of elk meat at his home.1 comment on this story
Earlier this year in Uintah and Duchesne counties, the Thompsons pleaded guilty to the poaching charges. William Thompson was fined $500 and ordered to pay $16,350 to the state's Help Stop Poaching fund. He was placed on probation for three years and ordered to serve 107 days in jail. He could lose his hunting and fishing privileges in Utah and other compact states for 65 years.
Jennifer Thompson received a fine of $500 and was ordered to pay $1,900 to the Help Stop Poaching fund. She was put on probation for 36 months and ordered to serve 10 days in the Uintah County Jail. She could lose her hunting privileges for 17 years.