In a recent development, 80-year-old Othel Lee Pearson of Troy has been charged with evidence tampering in connection to the shooting and killing of a grizzly bear on his property in 2020. U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich announced the charges, which include tampering with evidence (a felony) and failure to report the taking of a grizzly bear (a misdemeanor).

Charges and Potential Penalties

The evidence tampering charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release.

It is important to note that these charges are accusations, and defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. A court date for Pearson's appearance has not been set at the time of this report.

Alleged Actions and Attempt to Avoid Prosecution

Pearson allegedly shot and killed a sow grizzly bear on his residential property on November 19, 2020, using a .270 rifle. Following the shooting, he cut a GPS collar fitted to the bear and discarded it in the Yaak River.

Pearson took further steps to conceal his actions by cutting the bear's paws, ear tags, and an identifying lip tattoo from the carcass. These parts were hidden in a hollowed-out tree near his residence on National Forest System land.

Plea Agreement and Cooperation

A plea agreement exists in the matter, with Pearson expected to plead guilty to both charges outlined in the information. The agreement proposes a joint recommendation for a sentence of three years of probation and an $8,000 fine. In exchange for these guilty pleas, the United States commits not to prosecute another individual in connection with the bear's killing.

Additionally, Pearson has agreed to cooperate with the United States regarding the discovery of the skull of a second grizzly bear on National Forest System lands near his property.

As the legal proceedings unfold, Assistant U.S. Attorney Randy Tanner is prosecuting the case, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service having conducted the investigation.

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