Elizabeth City, N.C. - United States Attorney George E. B.
Holding announced that in federal court James E. Johnson, Jr., 71, of Virginia
Beach, Virginia pled guilty to taking or attempting to take migratory game birds
by aid of baiting and killing the migratory birds and unlawfully failing to
retain the birds; Able L. Brand, 70, of Supply, North Carolina and John T.
Ragland, 69, of Weston, Connecticut, both pled guilty to killing the migratory
birds and unlawfully failing to retain the birds; and Troy R. Godwin, 37, of New
Bern, North Carolina and Raymond H. Rhoden, 58, of Hobucken, North Carolina,
both pled guilty to conspiring to violate provisions of the Migratory Bird
Treaty. United States District Judge Terrence W. Boyle took their pleas and
handed down their sentences.
Johnson received one year probation with no hunting during this period and a
$7,500.00 fine was imposed. Rhoden and Godwin each received one year probation
with no hunting during that period and a fine of $500.00 was imposed. Brand and
Ragland were each fined $1,000.00.
For the 2006/2007 hunting season Johnson
purchased more than 20 tons of corn. On January 12 and 14, 2007, using a boat
owned by Johnson, Godwin and Rhoden, employees of Johnson’s, placed corn in
Porpoise Creek, Pamlico County, North Carolina. On January 16, 2007, Godwin and
Rhoden transported Johnson, Ragland, and Brand to a waterfowl hunting blind in
From the position of the blind, Johnson, Ragland and Brand shot several scaup
ducks. Johnson then contacted Godwin and Rhoden, who had previously left the
area, to return to the blind to retrieve the freshly killed ducks. Once the
ducks were retrieved, Johnson, Ragland and Brand then resumed hunting.
Investigation of the case was conducted by agents with the United States Fish
and Wildlife Service. Assistant United States Attorney Barbara Kocher served as
prosecutor for the government.