Friday, July 27, 2012

UPDATED JULY 28: Former Ohio wildlife officer Allan Wright loses university security job

Allan Wright, the former Ohio Division of Wildlife officer who was sentenced July 17 in federal court for violating the Lacey Act, is out of another job.

Knoxville, Tenn.-based News Sentinel newspaper is reporting that Wright has been dismissed as a security guard with Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tenn.

Harrogate is located about 55 miles north of Knoxville in the Cumberland Mountains. It is a private liberal arts school spread out over 1,000 acres and has an enrollment of around 4,550 students.

The university confirmed to The News-Herald that Wright was let go, issuing a short, terse statement on the matter.

In sentencing Wright July 17 for violating four misdemeanor charges of the federal Lacey Act, Federal Judge Michael R. Barrett said Wright has placed himself at a “crossroads,” a fork in life in which the one-time 18-year state wildlife officer could still “turn your life around.”

Wright became the first Ohio wildlife officer to be indicted in federal court for violating the nation’s chief wildlife protection law. He had been the Wildlife Division officer assigned to Brown County.

Barrett’s imposed sentence of Wright included: He can keep his new job within the security department of Lincoln Memorial University on the condition he must leave his weapon on campus, house arrest for three months and pay a $1,000 fine with the money going to the Wildlife Division’s Turn-in-A-Poacher (TIP) program. Added to this was a $25-per-count court cost.

Wright is also forbidden to buy any hunting or fishing license anywhere in the world for the next five years, the length of his probation.

However, following Wright’s sentencing the university severed its ties with Wright, the News Sentinel says.

Also, Jessica Little, Brown County prosecutor, says she intends to call disgraced and former state wildlife officer Allan Wright when the two recently indicted fellow agents go to trial.

On July 19, Ohio Division of Wildlife officers Dave Warner and Matthew Roberts were indicted in Brown County Court of Common Pleas for Theft in Office, a 5th Degree Felony; and Tampering with Records, a Third Degree Felony. Warner was also indicted for Dereliction of Duty, a Second Degree misdemeanor.

The charges stem from the pair’s alleged activity of hunting while on duty, and also for allegedly turning in bogus time slips that supposedly showed they were on duty when they were allegedly hunting with Wright.

Amy Drittler, Lincoln Memorial University's Director of Marketing and Public Relations for Health Sciences, sent the following to The News-Herald in response to a request for a comment, the school having issued its original statement Wednesday, July 25:

"LMU learned the outcome of Mr. Wright's hearing yesterday (July 24) and has taken appropriate action. Mr. Wright will no longer be a member of the University's security or police force."
Here also is the text of Friday's online story by News Sentinel reporter Megan Boehnke:

“A security officer hired by Lincoln Memorial University is no longer working at the school after a U.S. District judge sentenced him to three months of house arrest, five years probation and other penalties for misdemeanors he committed as a state wildlife officer in Ohio.

“Allan Wright pleaded guilty last month to four violations of the federal Lacey Act, a conservation law that prohibits the buying and selling of wildlife killed illegally. Wright was sentenced July 17, though university officials just learned it Tuesday, according to a statement released by a school spokeswoman.

“The Harrogate-based Lincoln Memorial ‘has taken appropriate action,’ the statement continues.

“‘Mr. Wright will no longer be a member of the University’s security or police force.’”

“The school did not return calls for further information about Wright or his employment.

“Wright pleaded guilty last month to allowing a South Carolina man to use Wright’s address to receive an in-state hunting license and falsely recording his three white-tailed deer kills, according to court documents and articles in The News-Herald, a daily newspaper in Willoughby, Ohio.

“Wright also pleaded guilty to falsely claiming in evidence logs to have destroyed antlers seized during his time as a wildlife officer and then transporting them to Michigan.

“He was sentenced by Judge Michael R. Barrett in a 37-minute hearing in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati, according to court documents.

“Additional penalties include paying a $1,000 fine benefiting a state anti-poaching program and $100 in court fees. He is also prohibited from obtaining a hunting or fishing license and must keep his service weapon secured by his employer.

“It’s not clear whether LMU security officers carry firearms.”


- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

1 comment:

  1. Frisch, can you dig any harder on this disgraced officer? Would you be happier if he was living in poverty or dead? Were you the one who alerted his current (now former)employer of his misdmeaner conviction? Forgiveness is a great virture.