Game guide gets $35K fine in plea over illegal hunts
A major Alaska Wildlife Troopers case has ended with a 62-year-old man ordered to pay tens of thousands of dollars in fines, after entering a guilty plea to several guiding offenses.
Thomas G. Shankster of Aurora, Colo. was sentenced Monday to pay a $35,000 fine in Aniak District Court, troopers said in an online dispatch, after pleading guilty to two misdemeanor counts each of aiding in the commission of a guiding violation and failing to report a violation. He was also ordered to serve 30 days of a 600-day sentence, with the remaining time suspended.
Troopers said the case out of Game Management Unit 19 near McGrath, which involved Shankster’s business Alaska Trophy Hunts based near the mouth of the Dillinger River, dates back to the fall of 2014.
Shankster, troopers said, “had committed the crime of wanton waste on at least five occasions (both moose and caribou), failed to report two known violations by his assistant guides (sub-legal sheep and antlers before meat), and committed unsworn falsification on at least one hunt record showing that meat had been salvaged when in fact it hadn’t.”
Investigators gathered antlers and spoiled meat from three moose and three caribou, as well as seizing a sub-legal set of sheep horns during the case.
“The scope of this investigation was substantial, requiring extensive asset usage, including both fixed-wing and helicopter, and involved intensive man-power (nearly 1,000 hours) from nine Alaska Wildlife Troopers,” troopers wrote. “At least 41 separate witness and/or suspect interviews were conducted for the investigation in addition to essential evidentiary compilation and a lengthy report documenting the illegal acts.”
A total of eight guiding offenses were originally charged in the case against Shankster, troopers said, before court records show he changed his plea in March.
“This case was the result of many hours of field patrol and follow up investigation by the Alaska Wildlife Troopers,” troopers wrote. “The penalties imposed by the court show how serious the court and state of Alaska take the statutes and regulations involving resource protection, big game hunting and guiding in our state.”
Shankster has a previous hunting-related conviction on his criminal record, for illegally using a helicopter to take game near McGrath in 2002.
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