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Arkansas Man Caught Falsifying Residency
Arkansas Man Caught Falsifying Residency

CODY-A sixty-year old resident of Rogers, Arkansas was recently fined $18,060 (eighteen thousand sixty dollars) in fines and lost his hunting privileges for 10 years for falsifying his residency status in order to purchase resident hunting licenses in Wyoming.

Charles E. Gerhardt was found guilty of two counts of false swearing to obtain resident deer (hunt area 116) and resident elk (hunt area 62) licenses in 2009.

According to Jim Olson, Meeteetse game warden for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, a concerned citizen provided enough information to initiate an investigation, which later revealed that Gerhardt had been applying for and receiving resident licenses for many years.

"Gerhardt had set up an elaborate scheme to cheat the system, but in reality, he was cheating the resident hunter," Olson said. "By making false statements and applying for resident licenses, he increased his odds of drawing a license from twenty-seven to sixty-three percent in these hard to draw deer and elk areas," said wildlife investigator Kathy Crofts who assisted with the investigation. "For every fraudulent license issued, one less license is available to legal huntersâ€"this is reality," Olson added.

The investigation discovered that since May 2005, Gerhardt applied for 62 Wyoming resident hunting and fishing licenses; he was issued 47 resident licenses but had never met Wyoming''s residency requirement. To qualify for any resident hunting or fishing license, a person must be domiciled and physically reside in Wyoming for one full year (365 consecutive days) immediately preceding the date the person applies for or purchases a license. In addition, a person cannot claim residency elsewhere for any other purpose for that one year period. "Once residency is established a person must be physically present in the state for 180 days out of the year," Crofts said.

Over the course of several years, Gerhardt used various addresses and improper local telephone numbers to obtain a post office box, Wyoming driver''s license and Park County voter registration. Olson also discovered that Gerhardt had purchased 20 acres in a Meeteetse subdivision, moved a small trailer upon it but never spent more than four months there each year. "He generally came out two to four times each year in the summer and during the hunting season," Olson said. According to Crofts, Gerhardt befriended local citizens and then had them pick up his mail and sometimes tend to his local business affairs.

"We also enlisted the assistance of Lt. Brian McKenzie, wildlife officer for the Arkansas Game and Fish Department to help us ferret out addresses and licenses that Gerhardt used in his home state," Olson said. Information obtained from Arkansas revealed that in March 2004, Gerhardt procured an Arkansas lifetime hunting license while in possession of a valid Kansas driver''s license. According to McKenzie, Arkansas requires one-year residency prior to procuring a lifetime license. Wyoming records revealed that 19 days after purchasing the Arkansas lifetime license, Gerhardt registered to vote in Park County, Wyoming claiming to be a bona fide resident of Wyoming since October 2003.

"Wildlife violations are taken seriously by game wardens but also by judges and prosecuting attorneys. Although Gerhardt was only cited for two violations of the many he committed, the fines and license revocation fit the crime," Olson said.

Olson added that Gerhardt will also be penalized under the Wildlife Violator Compact. Any person whose license privileges are suspended in Wyoming would also be suspended in the other 33 member states of Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Anyone witnessing a wildlife violation can call the Stop Poaching hotline at 1-877-WGFD-TIP. Tips are most helpful with specific information such as the date, time, location and specific details about the suspected violation. Also include a physical description of the suspected violator as well as a license plate number and description of any vehicles involved in the incident. Stop Poaching tips can also be reported on the department''s web site at: /wildlife/enforcement/stoppoaching/submitTip.aspx. Tips may result in a reward and informants can chose to remain anonymous.