Grand Junction man gets fine, probation for illegal lion hunts

A man who helped lead illegal hunts of mountain lions in western Colorado and Utah for high-paying clients — in some cases involving wounded animals — was sentenced Monday in Denver federal court to serve three years probation.

Marvin Ellis of Grand Junction also was ordered by U.S. District Judge Philip Brimmer to serve six months of home detention and pay a $3,000 fine stemming from his March 27, 2012, guilty plea to conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act.

Brimmer also imposed unique conditions for Ellis’ probation, prohibiting him from any “hunting activities/hunting groups” and ordering him not to kill any animals while on probation, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Denver.

With the felony conviction, Ellis is prohibited from possessing firearms.

The Lacey Act, among other provisions, prohibits moving big game across state lines when a violation of law has occurred in the originating state where a kill occurs.

Charging documents in the case said between December 2007 and March 2010, Ellis was employed as a hunting guide for a licensed outfitter in Mack, which employed four others. The outfitter and other guides were not named.

The documents said clients paid “several hundred to several thousands of dollars” while Ellis and other guides trapped mountain lions or bobcats days before the clients arrived in the Grand Valley. Animals were fitted with “leg-hold” traps on their legs to hinder their movement, making it easier to hunt them.

Ellis and the other guides on one occasion allegedly shot a lion in its leg before a client hunted it down the next day.

The documents outline three occasions when clients from Connecticut and Missouri hunted animals which had been caught, caged and released by Ellis and his colleagues.

In several instances, the hunters allegedly didn’t have required licenses.

Ellis was charged in February 2012. Federal prosecutors last week said in a motion Ellis has provided “substantial assistance” on the roles played by five alleged co-conspirators in the investigation. Those people are not identified in Ellis’ publicly available court records.

Four of them have reached plea agreements, the motion said.

“At this point I have to decline comment regarding that portion of this case,” said Jeff Dorschner, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Denver.


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