Poaching suspects must return for later hearing
Gregory Jerome Jaegers and Keith C. Schweiss flew to Colorado from Missouri to appear in court, only to learn Wednesday their case is being continued. The pair was allegedly involved in an illegal hunting operation in Garfield County, and allegedly killed a variety of wildlife illegally. Jaegers, 40, of Genevieve, Mo., faces 22 felony and misdemeanor counts for operating an outfitter service without a license, illegally selling wildlife and illegally killing bear, deer and mountain lion without a license. Richard W. Schroeder, 45, of Festus, Mo., and Schweiss, 47, of Bloomsdale, Mo., face fewer counts, including two felony charges for willful destruction of wildlife. Schroeder was not scheduled to appear in court for a bond hearing Wednesday. Schweiss and Jaegers failed to sign a conflict waiver allowing attorney Walt Brown to represent both of them. The case was continued until May 4. Brown said he couldn’t comment on the case, which has been under investigation for several years, involving state wildlife department officials from Colorado, Wyoming and Missouri. Jaegers allegedly admitted to the Colorado Division of Wildlife that he operated his Renegade Guide Service – based in Missouri – north of Parachute without a license for nearly a decade before being licensed in 2005, according to an affidavit filed in district court. Jaegers allegedly told undercover CDOW and Missouri Department of Conservation agents during a hunt last year that he was going to advertise his guiding service more frequently and would need to “get legal.” His hunting guides were supposed to have first aid certification to work for him legally, but they were “moonlighting” from Jaegers’ certification, according to court documents. Jaegers also admitted to a slate of other violations, including: Killing a black bear and having someone else tag it Illegally baiting a bear that was killed by another hunter Illegally killing another bear that had been trespassing into a hunting cabin Illegally killing a mule deer with a scoped muzzleloader and having Schroeder tag it Illegally allowing Schroeder to kill a mule deer buck with a rifle and then tagging it with Jaegers’ muzzleloader license Illegally being present when Schweiss allegedly killed a mountain lion with a scoped muzzleloader and instructing Schweiss to abandon the carcass Instructing another man to abandon the carcass of a cow elk that the man allegedly illegally shot with a scoped muzzleloader. Schweiss allegedly admitted to killing the mountain lion with a scoped muzzleloader and abandoning the carcass, paying Jaegers, who did not have a guiding license, up to $2,000 each year for hunts in Colorado between 1996 and 2004, and acting as a hunting guide for Jaegers in 2005. Schroeder allegedly admitted to several violations, including serving as a hunting guide for Jaegers in 2004 and illegally killing and abandoning a black bear. In a press release, the CDOW’s lead investigator said the further the department investigated Jaegers, Schroeder and Schweiss, the larger the case became. Four of Jaegers’ hunting clients were also charged with wildlife violations, to which they pleaded guilty and paid fines over $5,000. Miller said he expects others will be charged in the case.
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