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Elk farmer sentenced in Illinois

February 19, 2009 at 04:57 PM

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A federal judge sentenced a former Wisconsin elk farmer Thursday to five months of home confinement for illegally transporting elk.

U.S. District Judge Philip G. Reinhard in Rockford, Ill., also ordered 55-year-old Robert S. Johnson to pay a $20,000 fine, serve 3 years’ probation and perform 300 hours of community service.

Johnson, of Kerrville, Texas, pleaded guilty in November to illegally moving the elk between states.

Investigators said Johnson ran game farms in Gays Mills and Leaf River, Ill., from early 2003 through 2005. He sold the Gays Mills farm but couldn’t legally move elk off it because they weren’t certified free of chronic wasting disease.

He brought the animals to Illinois in March 2005. He told authorities he planned to slaughter them, negating the need for the certification. Instead, he took them to his Leaf River farm and charged hunters to go after them.

Johnson was in trouble in Wisconsin last year on another matter. Prosecutors accused him of introducing wild pigs to Crawford County in the southwest corner of the state. A judge found him not guilty in October, however, after a witness who claimed he saw Johnson release the pigs near Gays Mills recanted his story.

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