SPOKANE – A Twisp man has pleaded guilty to three conspiracy charges related to killing an endangered wolf.
William D. White, 62, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the illegal conduct relating to endangered wolves and other wildlife.
White entered a plea agreement and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to take endangered species, conspiracy to export endangered species and unlawful importation of wildlife.
The first two counts each carry a maximum penalty of up to one year in prison and the third carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison.
A sentencing hearing is set for July 11.
White and his son and daughter-in-law, Tom D. White and Erin White, were charged last June in U.S. District Court, Spokane, with two counts each of conspiracy, unlawful taking of endangered species, smuggling goods into the U.S. and unlawful importation of wildlife, and one count each of smuggling goods from the U.S., unlawful export of an endangered species, false labeling of wildlife for export, obstruction/false statement and forfeiture allegations.
They were accused of killing several wolves and trying to ship the hide of one to Canada for tanning. They also were accused of importing a moose and deer that had been illegally killed in Canada.
In 2008, the Omak Police Department investigated a report that a suspicious package had been left with a private shipping company. It was addressed to a resident of Alberta, Canada.
An officer observed that the package appeared to be draining blood. It was falsely labeled as containing a rug and was ultimately opened and observed to contain a fresh wolf hide.
The investigation led agents to William D. White. A search of his residence and computer revealed that he was involved in a conspiracy to kill wolves and to export a wolf hide to Canada, U.S. Attorney Michael C. Ormsby said.
Wolves are protected as endangered species in the Twisp area, where White lives. White also illegally killed wildlife in Alberta, Canada, and subsequently imported that it to the U.S. in violation of the Lacey Act, Ormsby said.
Under the plea agreements, the U.S. and White will jointly recommend that White serve three years of probation and pay criminal fines, restitution and other penalties totaling $38,500. White agreed to forfeit firearms and other items related to the violations.