Man pleads guilty to poaching mountain lions

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SANDPOINT - A Boundary County man pleaded guilty Monday to aiding and abetting the poaching of Idaho mountain lions.

Tod S. Navarro entered the plea in U.S. District Court in Coeur d'Alene. He faces up to a year in prison, a $100,000 fine and up to five years of probation. His hunting privileges will also be revoked for up to five years, according to a plea agreement filed in U.S. District Court.

The government also seeks to seize Navarro's 2001 Dodge pickup truck, which was used to facilitate the crime.

Navarro, a 49-year-old from Naples, was indicated by a federal grand jury last year and ultimately charged with aiding and abetting the transport of three mountain lions that were shot in Idaho and taken to North Dakota in January 2012.

Navarro's plea comes about four months after his son, Jacob, and Christopher B. Wilson entered pleas to an identical set of charges, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Coeur d'Alene.

All three suspects in the scheme were indicted by a federal grand jury last year. They were investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and prosecuted under the Lacey Act, a century-old federal conservation law which protects plants and wildlife.

Sentencing dates are pending in the cases against Jacob Navarro, a 22-year-old from Naples, and Wilson, a 33-year-old from Elgin, Ore.

Tod Navarro is scheduled to be sentenced on July 21.

In a plea agreement, he admitted that he allowed his Idaho tag to be put on a mountain lion taken by a hunter from North Dakota, knowing that it was going to be transported out of state. The plea agreement further states that he provided hunting dogs that were used in the poachings.

Each of the three suspects were originally charged with felonies, although the offenses were reduced to misdemeanors in exchange for pleas of guilt, federal court records indicate.

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