- Associated Press - Friday, October 31, 2014

GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) - Three Louisiana, men have been sentenced for smuggling white-tailed deer into Mississippi in violation of a law that protects the state’s deer population from chronic wasting disease.

Wildlife officials said such smuggling, called importing under the law, also can infect livestock with tuberculosis and brucellosis.

The case before U.S. District Judge Sul Ozerden in Gulfport, Mississippi, on Thursday involved the import of 52 white-tailed deer from four states to family-owned or managed property Pearl River and Lamar counties.

The Sun Herald reports (https://bit.ly/1wMVF3X ) Ozerden the three family members involved in the smuggling and fined their company, Omni Pinnacle of Slidell, Louisiana, a total of $1.5 million for a felony importing. The company also was placed on probation for five years. The money will go to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.

Omni, a disaster debris business, admitted it allowed the use of its heavy equipment to build facilities at the wildlife enclosures, paid for some of the deer and used the facilities for public relations and business development. The company forfeited the deer, a truck and breeding facilities.

Ronald Reine, 67, chief executive officer of Omni, was fined $10,000, ordered to home confinement for six months and given three years of probation.

His son, Brian Reine, 44, was sentenced to nine months in prison and two years of probation. Reine had accepted a plea deal on a felony charge of importing deer.

Brian Reine’s son, Bruce Swilley, 27, also was fined $10,000, given nine months of home confinement and three years of probation.

Ronald Reine and Bruce Swilley had both accepted a plea to a misdemeanor importing count. Prosecutors said the deer were imported in at least nine shipments from 2009 through 2012.

The men were charged in a 13-count indictment filed in February following investigation by the state wildlife agency and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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Information from: The Sun Herald, https://www.sunherald.com

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