Correction: Blackfeet Hunts-Musicians story

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HELENA, MONT. (AP) - In a story March 5 about three Blackfeet tribal members who pleaded guilty to holding illegal big-game hunts for country musicians, The Associated Press reported erroneously that Jay Wells is a former Blackfeet Tribal Business Council member. Wells has been suspended from the council, not removed from it.

A corrected version of the story is below:

Blackfeet men plead guilty to wildlife charges

Ex-Blackfeet leaders plead guilty to illegal big-game hunts for musicians on TV show

By MATT VOLZ

Associated Press

HELENA, Mont. (AP) _ Three Blackfeet tribal members pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges they held illegal big-game hunts for country musicians participating in an outdoors television show on the northwestern Montana reservation.

Jay St. Goddard, Jay Wells and Gayle Skunkcap Jr. admitted to holding four hunts between 2010 and 2011 without obtaining the limited and expensive hunting licenses for non-tribal members to shoot elk, moose, deer and a black bear. The three men also admitted to using tribal funds and personnel to outfit and guide the musicians, television show hosts and a fly fishing expert.

The men are not accused of personally profiting from the hunts. Rather, they exchanged them for free concerts by country artists that included Josh Thompson, Justin Moore and Mark Cooke, and for exposure on a satellite television show called “Sovereign Sportsman” they estimated was worth $150,000.

Federal prosecutors say the tribal leaders’ actions amounted to an illegal sale of the tribe’s wildlife. The men’s attorneys say they were only trying to raise the poverty-stricken reservation’s profile and economy but admit they did not obtain the proper licenses.

“Did they violate the law? Yes. Are they morally wrong? No,” Thane Johnson, St. Goddard’s attorney, said after the hearing.

Thompson’s 2010 debut album is titled “Way Out Here.” Moore’s “Outlaws Like Me” was a top 10 country album in 2011. Cooke’s single “Any Way The Wind Blows” cracked the top 60 in Billboard’s country charts.

Country star John Michael Montgomery also performed a free concert on the reservation, but a scheduling conflict prevented him from returning for a hunt, prosecutors said.

“Sovereign Sportsman” co-owner Eric Richey approached the tribe about the hunts in 2010 after shopping the idea to other reservations to promote the show available on DirecTV and Dish Network, according to prosecutors.

Thompson shot a bull elk in an October 2010 hunt with a film crew in tow. The video of that hunt is still on the show’s website.

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