A father and son from Sugar Camp have pled guilty in federal court to illegal possession of a dead bald eagle.
65-year-old Alvin Sowinski and 46-year-old Paul Sowinski were arrested last fall after authorities found mounting evidence of animal poisoning.
A DNR Warden began the investigation in May 2007 after finding a bald eagle, crow, gray squirrel and bobcat on the Sowinski property…all dead from consuming a poison called Carbofuran. Between 2007 and 2010 officials say they found dozens of poisoned animals, including at least two bald eagles.
Alvin Sowinski says he used poison to target predators and improve hunting conditions on his property. His son Paul Sowinski has admitted to knowing about the poisoning activities and disposing of eagle remains.
Sentencing for the Sowinskis is set for August 4th. Prosecuting Assistant US Attorney Peter Jarosz says these kinds of cases are rare.
“The primary thing we’ll be presenting in August is what others similarly situated have received as punishment. And that’s tough to do in this kind of case because poisoning of animals isn’t really widespread. But we’re going to try to draw as much from what we’ve been able to research to try and determine what is an appropriate sentence to present to the court.”
A plea agreement signed in December requires the Sowinskis to pay a hundred thousand dollars in restitution. Their hunting, trapping and fishing rights will also be suspended for a minimum of five years.
A maximum sentence would mean serving a year in prison and an additional fine of up to a hundred thousand dollars each.
The defending attorney in the case was not available for comment.
The Sowinskis helped run a large potato farm in Oneida County. Sowinski Farms says it has not been charged with any wrongdoing, has cooperated fully with authorities and deeply regrets the impacts caused to animals by unauthorized acts.