YAKIMA Two Yakama tribal members were sentenced in U.S. District Court today for killing eagles and selling their parts.
Willard Phillip Maldonado, 41, of Union Gap, and Austin Henry Phillips, 39, of Granger, were both previously convicted of related crimes.
Maldonado was sentenced to nine months of jail time — six can be served as in-home confinement, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington Michael C. Ormsby said.
Maldonado was also sentenced to pay $1,805 in fines and agreed to forfeit firearms and a vehicle used to transport eagle parts, Ormsby said.
Phillips was sentenced to three years of probation, with 30 days in-home confinement. He is also prohibited from hunting outside of the Yakama Indian Reservation, Ormsby said.
As Yakama tribal members, the men are allowed to possess eagle feather for non-commercial purposes. But under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection and Lacey acts, all citizens and U.S. residents are prohibited from selling eagle parts.
Maldonado pleaded guilty April 22 to six counts of involving the killing and transporting of bald and golden eagles for commercial purposes and to offering eagle parts for sale. Phillips pleaded guilty April 8 to a misdemeanor charge of killing a bald eagle on Jan. 17, 2014, while hunting with Maldonado.
Court records show that for more than three years, from December 2010 though January 2014 Maldonado was using animal carcasses as bait to hunt eagles.
Maldonado would then kill eagles and sell their feathers through social media and the Internet, records show.
Court records show investigators have traced the sales to others in the U.S., as well as in Canada.
"The eagle is our country’s national symbol and is a national treasure," Ormsby said. "The eagle also has
cultural and religious significance to Native Americans..."
Agents from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state Department of Fish and Wildlife and Yakama tribhal police investigated the cases.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Ohms prosecuted the cases.