COLUMBUS – Rick Kesterson, 37, of Glouster, Ohio was sentenced in U.S. District Court for unlawfully killing an Osprey in violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, it is unlawful to kill any migratory bird except as allowed by regulation.
Kesterson was sentenced to two years of probation. He was also ordered to pay $500 in restitution to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, forfeit his hunting license, complete 52 hours of community service at Burr Oak State Park and be subject to random house inspections and drug testing.
Benjamin C. Glassman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, and officials with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement, and Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Wildlife and Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien announced the sentence handed down last week by U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley.
According to court documents, Kesterson was observed striking an Osprey with a pipe after the Osprey was shot out of the air with a shotgun.
In April 2015, ODNR Division of Wildlife received a complaint on the Turn in a Poacher (TIP) hotline reporting the shooting of an Osprey. Eyewitnesses stated they were watching the bird with binoculars when they heard two shots and saw the Osprey fall from the air into a pond.
Kesterson was seen using a fishing line to retrieve the Osprey from the water. Kesterson then struck the Osprey with a stick or pipe and carried it down a dirt road into the woods.
Investigators found the Osprey partially submerged in a creek in the woods.
The following day, during the execution of a search warrant, investigators approached a residence belonging to Kesterson’s parents, in which Kesterson resides in the basement. Despite Kesterson’s mother telling authorities she was the only person home, investigators found Kesterson hiding in his bedroom, lying on the floor between two beds.
The residence was filled heavily with smoke that smelled like marijuana and it was later determined Kesterson saw the officers coming up the driveway and he attempted to burn a handful of marijuana in a wood burning stove with a propane torch. Investigators also found live marijuana plants, a large amount of marijuana drying and grow lights throughout the residence.
The Athens County Sheriff’s Office, Major Crimes Unit, obtained a separate search warrant for the narcotics and handled that aspect of this matter.
Kesterson was charged by criminal complaint in January 2017 and indicted by a federal grand jury in May 2017. He pleaded no contest to the charge today in federal court, and Judge Marbley found him guilty.
“This case came to fruition thanks to a call to 1-800-POACHER,” U.S Attorney Glassman said. “We encourage residents of the Southern District of Ohio to continue to report the illegal killing of wildlife so that we may hold individuals like Kesterson accountable for their actions.”
U.S. Attorney Glassman commended the cooperative investigation by U.S. Fish and Wildlife and Ohio Department of Natural Resources, as well as Assistant United States Attorney J. Michael Marous and Special Assistant United States Attorney Heather Robinson who represented the United States in this case.