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Stark County deer poaching couple convicted in Massillon

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Posted at 7:45 PM, Aug 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-09 19:45:08-04

Two Stark County residents were convicted in Massillon Municipal Court after a year-long wildlife poaching investigation by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

ODNR reported 22-year-old Ivan Ray IV and 48-year-old Tabatha Eberly, both of Brewster, were convicted of wildlife violations involving illegally killing and possessing white-tailed deer. 

“Our investigation began after a wildlife officer found several poached deer over the course of several months through Stark and Tuscarawas counties. We also received helpful information through our Turn In A Poacher (TIP) hotline about a possible suspect. Consequently, the ODNR Division of Wildlife, with assistance from the Stark County Sheriff’s Office and Brewster Police Department, executed a search warrant of the suspect’s residence in December of 2015,” explained ODNR Division of Wildlife Investigator Brett Barnes, who helped track down the suspects.

ODNR said five illegal bucks, several firearms, ammunition, one compound bow, untagged deer parts, and several packages of deer meat were seized after the search. A green Ford Taurus, which ODNR said was used to commit the wildlife crimes, was also seized. 

Ray was tried in Stark and Tuscarawas counties since the wildlife-related crimes occurred in the two separate counties. 

In Tuscarawas, ODNR said, Ray pled no contest to one charge and was ordered to pay $500 in restitution, plus court costs. He aslo received a three-year hunting privilege suspension. 

In Stark, Ray pled no contest to four charges and was sentenced to 10 days in jail, ordered to pay $2,400 in fines and restitution, plus court costs, ODNR reported. All firearms and illegally possessed deer were forfeited and Ray was given a five-year hunting privilege suspension. The judge also took time to lecture Ray on poaching and disrespecting Ohio wildlife officers. 

ODNR said Ray had prior wildlife violations concerning deer, which elevated his offenses from third-degree misdemeanors to first-degree misdemeanors. 

Eberly pled no contest in Stark County to one charge, ODNR reported, and was ordered to serve three days in jail, was fined $100 plus costs, and was allowed to retrieve her vehicle as long as she paid $750 in restitution to the ODNR Division of Wildlife.