Steep fines handed down in 'Friday Night Lights' poaching case

Steep fines handed down in 'Friday Night Lights' poaching case

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Two Tucson men who were arrested in 2014 by Arizona Game and Fish department officers have been fined thousands of dollars for illegally killing five deer in Redington Pass, also known as the "Friday Night Lights" case.

AZGFD on Thursday said the men were fined a total of $54,300 for their respective roles in committing multiple wildlife violations by "spotlighting" animals in 2013-14.

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Christopher Perez was individually fined $11,300, plus an additional $42,750 shared with accomplice Christopher Ball, who was individually fined $250.

Perez pleaded guilty in 2015 to 16 charges, and Ball pleaded to nine charges. Each was sentenced to 120 days in jail and criminally fined $750. They were ordered to serve 100 hours of community service and 24 months of unsupervised probation, and attend a hunter education class as well as an animal offender treatment program.

"Poachers aren't sportsmen," Raul Vega, Regional Supervisor of Game and Fish in Tucson, said in a news release. "They are thieves stealing wildlife from the state and its citizens. The amount of the fines shows the penalties can be high for those who show such disregard for the laws and cruelty to wildlife. No true sportsman would engage in this kind of conduct."

The investigation began in August 2014 when an archery deer hunter discovered three deer that had been shot with a rifle a day or two before. One of the deer was pregnant with two fawns.

At the time, it was archery deer season, and no rifle hunts were allowed.

AZGFD officers received a tip about a suspect through a hotline. Perez and Ball were investigated and later admitted to killing the five deer.

The investigation also revealed that the men committed multiple other game violations between the summer of 2013 and the summer of 2014, including poaching 15 deer, as well as other small game animals such as reptiles, a hawk, a bobcat and a fox.

Many of the offenses occurred on Friday nights from a truck outfitted with LED lights, prompting AZGFD officers to refer to the case as the "Friday Night Lights" case.

Anyone with information about wildlife violations is urged to call 1-800-352-0700.

For more information about hunting in Arizona, click here: https://azgfdportal.az.gov/Hunting.

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