(WBIR-Blount County) Four out of five suspects charged in an illegal Blount County bear hunting case reached a plea agreement Friday.
The defendants were charged with violations related to killing a 400 lb. black bear at night during the closed season back in September, 2013 on Chilhoweee Mountain. The hunters turned hunting dogs loose near barrels baited with chocolate candy.
According to T.W.R.A., the four suspects reached plea agreements, and the fifth was bound over to a grand jury:
Chris Caughron (23) of Maryville, who is also facing charges of illegal deer hunting in Knox Co. after shooting at a buck deer from Pellissippi Pky. in December, opted to bind his case over to the Grand Jury. Caughron also had his hunting privileges revoked out of Illinois for illegal hunting and is currently prohibited from hunting in Tennessee because of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact. This compact means that if a person has had their hunting privileges revoked in a member state, then their privileges are revoked in all participating states.
Richard L. Caughron (45) and Mike H. Gregory both pled guilty to the Use of Bait to Hunt Bears, Killing a Bear in the Closed Season, and Conspiracy to Commit Aggravated Criminal Littering. Both men received a six-month judicial deferral, six months supervised probation, 40 hours of community service, lost their Hunting, Trapping, and Fishing Privileges for 18 months, and were ordered to pay an app. $400 fine plus court costs. Caughron also forfeited a Garmin GPS unit and two GPS tracking collars.
Roger Dale Mason (65) agreed to a six-month abeyance, surrendered his Hunting, Trapping, and Fishing privileges for 12 months, and agreed to pay court costs.
Roger L. Mason (44) pled guilty to Use of Bait to Hunt Bears, Killing a Bear in Closed Season, and Conspiracy to Commit Aggravated Criminal Littering. Mason received a six-month suspended jail sentence, was ordered to serve 40 hours of community service, and lost his Hunting, Trapping, and Fishing privileges for 60 months. Mason was ordered to pay a $400 fine plus court costs and was placed on six-months of supervised probation. Mason also forfeited the black bear meat and parts, a rucksack, and two fixed bladed knives.
The TWRA commends the hard work of Assistant District Attorney General Shari Tayloe in the successful prosecution. The agency is using the case as an example, warning it will prosecute people who hunt illegally to the fullest extent of the law.