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August 24. 2013 9:10PM

Walpole man gets a suspended sentence, $750 fine for poaching

KEENE - A Walpole man was fined $750, lost his hunting license for two years and got a one-year suspended jail sentence for his part in an illegal deer-poaching operation, according to the state Fish and Game Department.

Joseph A. Benjamin, 44, pleaded guilty last Thursday in 8th Circuit Court, Keene District, to a Class A misdemeanor for taking more than one deer in a season, according to a press release.

Fish and Game conservation officers began investigating illegal night hunting and other violations in Walpole during the 2012 deer-hunting season, after several anonymous tips to a hotline set up to catch poachers.

In all, four men were convicted on misdemeanor and violation-level charges in connection with poaching a female deer after legal hunting hours, after hunting season had closed and after all four already had their allowable take of deer for the year.

Also convicted were: Nathan E. Patnode, 43, of Alstead; Andrew J. Patnode, 46, of Charlestown; and Travis L. Madore, 24, of Bellows Falls, Vt.

Fish and Game officers worked on the case with officials from the county attorney offices in Cheshire and Sullivan counties.

Operation Game Thief is an anti-poaching program that encourages the public to report suspicious activity or information about hunting violations.

Violations can be reported to a toll-free hotline, 1-800-344-4262, or online at www.wildnh.com/OGT.

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