Illinois hunting and fishing

Jeffrey Foiles leaves federal court in Springfield after his sentencing Wednesday. Photo by Chris Young.

Foiles sentenced to jail time

September 21, 2011 at 06:55 PM

“Fallin’ Skies” video star Jeffrey Foiles was sentenced Wednesday to serve 13 months in prison after his guilty plea was accepted in U.S. District Court — and after a lecture from another hunter, U.S. Magistrate Judge Byron Cudmore.

Foiles, 54, a professional waterfowl hunter and call maker from Pleasant Hill, originally faced a 23-count federal indictment for violating federal wildlife laws.

Foiles in June agreed to plead guilty to two misdemeanor charges and serve a prison sentence for unlawful sale of wildlife and unlawful taking of migratory game birds.

Foiles still faces sentencing Oct. 19 in Edmonton, Canada, for other wildlife violations, including charges of animal cruelty for not immediately killing wounded ducks and geese. He is to begin serving his U.S. sentence on Nov. 21.

Foiles declined to make a statement in court Wednesday, saying he did not want to be criticized further.

In addition to jail time, he will serve a year of supervised release, pay $100,000 in fines and give up his hunting and guiding privileges for two years following his release from jail.

As part of the agreement, Foiles also agreed to make public service announcements admitting wrongdoing and encouraging others to observe wildlife laws.

“I’m a hunter, too, Mr. Foiles,” Cudmore said during sentencing. “Hunting is a privilege, not a right, and you have violated that privilege to a great degree.”

The plea agreement documents numerous occasions where Foiles and other hunters exceeded bag limits, sometimes assigning excess ducks killed to other persons, even those who were not hunting.

Illegal hunts often were included in Foiles’ popular “Fallin’ Skies” video series.

Defense attorneys asked for Foiles’ sentence to be reduced because he had taken responsibility for his actions.

Prosecutors responded by detailing statements Foiles made on his company’s website and in e-mails to business associates, in which he said he felt “vindicated” or blamed others for some of his troubles.

Cudmore chose to accept the original agreement, saying it was a moot point after reviewing the government’s response.

“You could have acted better or smarter or in a more business-like way,” Cudmore said to Foiles.

Cudmore also warned Foiles not to violate terms of the plea agreement, including provisions that bar him from handling or possessing of firearms during the period of supervised release.

Foiles said his daughter now holds the federal firearms license for his business.

“You own the building, which means you are the landlord,” Cudmore said. “Walk very carefully when it comes to your daughter’s business.”

Cudmore also said he has heard from the public regarding Foiles’ actions.

“I have received a number of letters from concerned citizens,” he said. “It is nice to see people are paying attention to what is happening in federal court and in these types of cases.”

For someone who makes a living from hunting and guiding, Cudmore said a punishment that includes a more than three-year ban from hunting is significant.

“That is a long time for a true hunter not to be in the field,” he said. “I think it is a very appropriate sentence.”

Chris Young can be reached at (217) 788-1528.