JOHNSONBURG – Shawn Geci, a Ridgway Borough police officer and resident, was found guilty yesterday afternoon in District Court 59-3-02 on charges pertaining to unlawful hunting practices that reportedly occurred Dec. 3, 2010.
Before Cameron County District Judge Alvin Brown, Geci was found guilty of operating a motorized ATV on lands leased by the Pennsylvania Game Commission and use of unlawful devices and methods to hunt wildlife.
The fines for the two charges, as preset by District Judge George "Tony" King, were $300 and $100, respectively. While Pa. Game Commission officials reportedly could have chosen to charge Geci with possessing an illegal deer, they chose not to do so.
Elk County Wildlife Conservation Officer Richard S. Bodenhorn addressed the court yesterday morning alongside cadet Christopher Bergman and indicated in testimony that while the Commonwealth could have pursued charges of harvesting an illegal deer, two to be exact, officials chose not to do so.
"First of all, I say to the Game Commission: 'shame on you,'" Brown said. "Why would you treat a police officer any different than anyone else? I don't think that's right and I don't think it should be done.
"[Geci] is no different than anyone else. If he's violating the law, he's violating the law. If I'm violating the law, I'm violating the law. In the last 40 years, I've lived by that statute in my life and I live by that statute in court."
Bodenhorn reportedly found two separate sites Dec. 3 in Ridgway Township near Water Street Extension and Long Level Road. There was reportedly only one set of ATV tracks going to and from the sites, with only one set of human prints that Bodenhorn alleged were Geci's. Both sites were reportedly consistent with a deer being gutted and dragged away on an ATV. While no one in the courtroom reportedly saw Geci operating the ATV, the defendant did admit to shooting a button buck at approximately 9 a.m. and an 8-point buck at roughly 11:45 a.m., both on Dec. 3, 2010. The deer were legally tagged.
"No one has to see you shoot a deer in a vehicle when you can show that the vehicle came to that location and they are the only tracks going to that location, the only [man] tracks getting off that vehicle went to the place where the deer were shot," Brown said. "The direction of the shot went through the deer from that location and the pictures clearly show the situation where there were no other tracks there.
"Mr. Geci drove to a location, shot a deer, went out and gutted the deer and drug it back to his camp-- at least the second deer. This only goes for one and he is guilty of this charge also. He has 30 days in which to pay the fines and costs or file an appeal."