Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers today announced that a Linn County resident who unlawfully hunted and killed black bears to obtain their gall bladders is the first Oregonian to be convicted of racketeering based on multiple violations of Oregon's wildlife laws.
A Douglas County jury late yesterday found Raymond Edward Hillsman of Brownsville guilty of Racketeering, a class A felony; Unlawful Hunting and Pursuing of Black Bear Using Dogs, a class A misdemeanor; and Unlawful Taking of Black Bear During Closed Season, also a class A misdemeanor.
Racketeering is the offense of engaging in multiple crimes as part of an ongoing criminal enterprise. The indictment included 48 predicate offenses dating from April 1997 to May 1998 in support of the racketeering charge, including several incidents each of Unlawful Hunting and Pursuing of Black Bear Using Dogs, Unlawful Taking of Black Bear During Closed Season, Unlawful Hunting of Black Bear During Closed Season, Unlawful Sale of Wildlife Parts and Unlawful Waste of a Game Animal. Wildlife offenses became predicates to racketeering in 1993.
"This is a landmark case in fish and wildlife investigations where an individual involved in the illegal harvest and commercialization of our fish and wildlife resources has been brought to justice and convicted of racketeering in Oregon," said Captain Lindsay Ball, Director of the Oregon State Police's Fish & Wildlife Division. "This should send a strong message to other individuals about how strongly Oregonians feel about their natural resources."
Hillsman was a key figure in a group that demonstrated a complete disregard for Oregon's wildlife laws in hunting bears to obtain their gall bladders. According to evidence obtained by the state, Hillsman unlawfully pursued, killed and wasted numerous bears in various Oregon counties, including Douglas, Lane, Linn and Benton. Hillsman also unlawfully hunted and killed bobcats.
"The magnitude of the waste, the complete indifference toward Oregon's hunting laws and the ruthlessness of the methods used all merited seeking the racketeering conviction," Myers said. "We cannot and will not tolerate this kind of conduct in Oregon."
Myers also expressed appreciation for the diligence of the OSP Fish and Wildlife Division in investigating the case and appreciation for assistance that the Department of Justice received from Douglas County District Attorney Jack Banta and members of his staff. Myers further recognized that this is the final case in the distinguished career of Assistant Attorney General Bob Hamilton, who in his 22 years as Attorney-in-Charge of the Department's Organized Crime Section handled some of the highest profile criminal cases in Oregon history. His expertise, professionalism and dedication will belong remembered and sorely missed, Myers said.
Hillsman's sentencing is scheduled for September 13th at 11:00 AM in Douglas County Circuit Court.
Department of Justice: Peter Cogswell, (503) 378-6002 or
Oregon State Police: Gregg Hastings, (503) 731-3027 x 237