A father and son from Canada were sentenced on April 10 in Lewis and Clark County District Court in Helena following a lengthy Montana license fraud investigation.
As part of the case, 50 big game animals were seized on a search warrant executed in Custer County. They included 15 elk, 22 mule deer, 11 antelope, one bighorn sheep, and one mountain goat. Some were classified as trophy animals.
Larry and Shane Adams lived in Emo, Ontario, and operated a fly-in fishing business there. They also owned a home west of Miles City, using that address to purchase resident Montana hunting licenses for several years. A Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks investigation determined that they were living in Canada and did not meet Montana residency requirements.
The investigation was conducted by FWP warden Mike Krings and FWP criminal investigator Steve Marx. Krings said Larry and Shane Adams paid just over $2,600 for resident hunting licenses over the years, but as nonresidents they should have paid almost $29,000.
Larry Adams pleaded no contest to second-offense hunting without a valid license and four counts of unlawful procurement of a license, also known as license fraud. Shane Adams pleaded no contest to three counts of license fraud. Both men were sentenced to six months in jail for each misdemeanor count, all suspended if they obey all laws and pay all fines, court costs and restitution totaling $28,295.
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Montana statute assigns a monetary value to each big game animal for restitution purposes, with trophy animals having a higher value because of their rarity. According to Krings, if the men had been charged the full restitution value it could have been about $84,000.
Both men also forfeited their hunting, fishing, and trapping privileges for five years, retroactive to 2014. If either man violates court conditions, they will be subject to the original sentences.
“Residency fraud is a serious issue in Montana,” Krings said in a press release. “The violations are purposeful, and our abundant opportunities make it appealing to would-be violators. These opportunities are stolen every year from Montana hunters, especially special permit opportunities like the Square Butte mountain goat tag and Missouri Breaks bighorn sheep tag that Larry Adams drew.”
Special permit opportunities for nonresidents are limited to no more than 10% of the available permits for a particular hunt.