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United States of America v. Simon Lee Sampson
Case Number: 1:18-cr-02029-SAB
Judge: Stanley A. Bastian
Court: United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington (Spokane County)
Plaintiff's Attorney: Meghan McCalla
Spokane, WA - Illegal Trafficker of Fish and Wildlife Sentenced to Four Years Probation
Simon Lee Sampson, age 71 of Toppenish, Washington, and an enrolled member of the Yakama Nation, was sentenced after having pleaded guilty on April 24, 2019, to two Lacey Act violations, including the Sale of Wildlife and Conspiracy to Sell Fish/Wildlife. United States District Judge Bastian sentenced Sampson to a four-year term of probation.
The Lacey Act enforces federal conservation efforts for birds, wildlife, fish, and plants. It applies to tribal and non-tribal members alike. According to information disclosed during court proceedings, beginning in August 2015 through November 2016, Sampson sold sturgeon, steelhead, salmon, smelt, and deer to an undercover Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife detective in violation of Yakama tribal law and the Lacey Act. Sampson described himself as “hustling fish” since 1976.
Sampson illegally trafficked a number of species of fish listed as threatened by the Endangered Species Act. With the assistance of other individuals, Sampson harvested or possessed fish or hunted deer in violation of Yakama tribal law, then unlawfully sold the fish or deer to the undercover, which violated the Lacey Act. At times, Sampson indicated that the sale was “under the table” and “hush hush.” Sampson also acknowledged to the undercover officer that steelhead fishing was regulated because of over-harvesting. Sampson’s illegal sales of fish and wildlife to the undercover officer totaled $4,720.
In pronouncing sentence, Judge Bastian cautioned Sampson that if he did not follow the rules during his term of probation, there could be severe consequences. Sampson has a prior state conviction in Oregon for fishing violations during prohibited seasons. He was convicted in 2017 in Multnomah County Circuit Court in Portland, Oregon for Prohibited Activities During Closed Season involving Chinook Salmon.
United States Attorney Hyslop said, “Illegal trafficking of wildlife represents a serious threat to our critical ecosystems. I commend the collaborative work of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Law Enforcement and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife-Police in investigating this matter. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington will continue to aggressively prosecute those individuals who may engage in the illegal trafficking of wildlife.”
Jim Landon, Director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Law Enforcement, said, “NOAA is committed to managing marine resources in a fair and sustainable manner. Criminals who circumvent the law for their own personal gain harm both the resource itself as well as those who depend on the resource. The NOAA Office of Law Enforcement and its state and tribal partners are dedicated to enforcing the laws and regulations that exist to prevent this type of exploitation."
This case was investigated by the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife-Police.
Outcome: Imprisonment: No term imposed; Probation: 4 years; Fine: Waived; Restitution: $4720.00; Special Penalty Assessment; $200.00 ($100.00 per Count).