Even as former Ohio Wildlife Division officer Allan Wright saw his sentencing delayed today until July 17 violating the federal Lacey Act, he has received support from at least four of his former co-workers.
The four current wildlife officers sent letters to Federal Judge Michael R. Barrett, each official soliciting the jurist to display mercy in his sentencing of Wright.
In February Wright agreed to plead guilty in federal court for violating the Lacey Act, specifically by trafficking in and making false records regarding an illegally harvested white-tailed deer. He originally faced felony charges but those were not included in the Feb. 24 decision.
Wright admitted that he used his authority as a wildlife officer to seize deer antlers from a hunter who had illegally killed the buck in 2009, said the U.S. Department of Justice in February.
Rather than disposing of the antlers through court proceedings, as required by Ohio law, Wright "knowingly supplied them to another individual who transported them from Ohio to Michigan," the Justice Department said in a press release.
In their letters supporting Wright, and which are now part of the public record, three of the individuals indicated their current status as state wildlife officers in the signature portion of their respective documents. And one of these wildlife officers - Michael Ohlrich and assigned to Clermont County - even used official Wildlife Division stationary to make his plea to Judge Barrett.
The other two wildlife officers who sent letters to Judge Barrett and who posted at the end their status as current wildlife officers were: James Carnes, state wildlife officer assigned to Highland County; and Chris Gilkey, one-time state wildlife officer assigned to Adams County and now assigned to Meigs County.
A forth state wildlife officer, Rick Rogers, state wildlife officer assigned to Warren County, mentioned in the body of his letter that he had worked with Wright as a fellow state wildlife officer for 11 years.
All four letters were sent to Judge Barrett during a seven-day period beginning Feb. 16.
In each case the officers spelled out their respect for the defrocked Wright, noting his standing as a devoted family man with a wife and two children as well as the former officer’s dedication to his job.
Carnes says in his letter that he and Wright have become friends as have their respective wives.
Gilkey wrote that “As an officer, Allan was by far one of the best officers to ever put the uniform on.” while Ohlrich wrote that “The media has dragged his (Wright’s) name through the mud.”
And Rogers penned that he “...always observed high levels of integrity in all law the enforcement situations that I worked on with him (Wright).”
As for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, its only comment for now is this tersely worded statement: “We are reviewing the documents in conjunction with the department’s policy and will make a determination.”
Jeffrey L. Frischkorn