Colorado nabs Georgia man for hunting license fraud
Buying resident licenses when you aren’t one is a serious crime and this Georgia man recently was caught doing just that. Following a multi-year investigation, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) discovered that Douglas Crookston of Duluth, Ga., had posed as a Colorado resident multiple times to purchase hunting licenses despite no longer owning any property in the state.
While Crookston had lived in Colorado, as of February 2017, he had sold all of his property and moved to Georgia; however, CPW Officer Scott Murdoch discovered that Crookston was still posing as a Colorado resident two years later, according to a press release. During the investigation, officials discovered photos and videos that Crookston had posted on social media, documenting “every aspect of his hunts,” which made it easier to determine “when and where certain wildlife were taken.” Further, it appeared that Crookston knew exactly what he was doing as he kept a vehicle registered in Colorado and used a friend’s address to obtain licenses through the draw.
“I believe that Mr. Crookston hoped that investigators would just think that this whole thing was a big mix up and move on,” said Murdoch.
Crookston was charged with 42 misdemeanors for multiple wildlife violations, including the illegal possession of six big game animals, which CPW seized during the investigation: one bull elk, one bear, two mule deer and two antelope. Both the bull elk and one mule deer were large enough to invoke the “Samson” trophy designation, which requires an additional mandatory charge of $10,000 each.
Per his plea deal, Crookston was ordered to make a $500 donation to Colorado Operation Game Thief and pay $41,735.50 in fines and court costs. He has been sentenced to two years of supervised probation and a court-ordered suspension of all hunting, fishing and trapping-related activities. He might also lose these privileges in the other 48 states that honor the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, but that decision is still pending, according to the agency.
“While license fraud cases are not the typical ‘poacher’ case, CPW takes these cases very seriously,” said Murdoch. “Colorado residents are entitled to certain privileges that out of state residents are not. This comes in the form of license prices, license draw odds and license allocations. When non-residents claim Colorado residency fraudulently, all wildlife taken become illegal. They are essentially stealing money from CPW and opportunity from lawful residents that may have been able to acquire the fraudulently obtained license.”