Bear poacher from Smithfield receives 5-year hunting ban
A Smithfield man who poached a bear can't hunt in Pennsylvania for the next five years.
Joseph John Swaney, 39, also was ordered to serve a year on probation for his conviction this month.
Fayette County Senior Judge Gerald Solomon sentenced Swaney on Wednesday after he apologized.
“I made a mistake in what I did,” Swaney told Solomon. “I regret it.”
Swaney was found guilty of unlawful killing and taking of a black bear following a one-day trial Oct. 7.
Pennsylvania Game Commission officials believe Swaney's poaching conviction to be the first in the state by a jury trial.
He was ordered to pay $1,500 in restitution to the game commission in accordance with a provision in state law that places monetary value on wildlife involved in a violation.
The provision ranges in restitution from $300 for the illegal possession or killing of a beaver or turkey to $5,000 for a threatened or endangered bird or mammal and certain sizes of black bear, elk and deer.
Swaney killed the black bear on the afternoon of Sept. 7, 2012, when it wandered into his backyard garden, according to court documents. A tipster reported the killing to the game commission, and Swaney was questioned the following week.
Wildlife Conservation Officer Brandon C. Bonin reported in court documents that when he searched Swaney's backyard, he found hair and paws from a black bear. The bear's head was found in a nearby stream, and the animal's carcass was recovered from a freezer owned by a friend of Swaney's, Bonin said.
The game commission had not received any complaints about a bear in the area before the killing. Swaney confessed, according to court records, and went to trial after rejecting a plea offer.
During a search of Swaney's property, Bonin found two marijuana plants in a plastic container. A marijuana possession charge was dropped in district court as part of a tentative plea offer. Jurors were not told about the plants, which were tested by a police crime lab and confirmed to be marijuana.
Renatta Signorini is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Fayette County man injured in WV fireworks mishap
- Connellsville pavilion, horseshoes to preserve woman’s memory
- 87th St. Rita’s Festival scheduled in Connellsville
- Geibel Catholic acting, music camp enters 4th year
- Grief support given for loss of pets
- Uniontown set for free summer concert series
- Fayette County men recount fathers’ roles in World War II
- Historical society aims to preserve Connellsville connections to conflicts
- Connellsville-area municipalities getting less return from gas impact fees
- Funeral planned for Connellsville teen who died in crash
- Post-war ‘welcome’ still stings Vietnam War veteran from Connellsville