Wildlife Probe Termed 'Witch Hunt'

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A lawyer for a former wildlife commissioner and his son accused of multiple hunting violations says his clients are innocent and the investigation amounts to a "witch hunt."

Former Nevada Wildlife Commissioner Bradley Quilici and his 24-year-old son, Dario, face more than a dozen gross misdemeanor charges in Churchill and Pershing counties for alleged hunting violations.

"They are not guilty and my suspicion is this is a real witch hunt of Brad Quilici because he's been an outspoken critic of the wildlife department," said Ken McKenna, a Reno attorney who said he is representing both father and son in the case.

Lincoln County is also reviewing the investigation by state game wardens and felony charges are being considered there, said Churchill County Deputy District Attorney Brandi Jensen, who is serving as spokeswoman for all three rural prosecutors.

The charges involve allegations that Bradley Quilici, of Lovelock, illegally obtained resident hunting licenses for his son in Cedar City, Utah.

Wildlife investigators allege the illegal licenses were then used to illegally apply for and obtain big game hunting tags in Nevada.

In Churchill County, where the annual big game tag draw is conducted, Bradley Quilici was charged with 12 gross misdemeanor counts of making false statements to obtain a hunting license, tag or permit. Dario Quilici was charged with 16 similar counts.

Pershing County charged father and son with one count each of possessing a pronghorn antelope without a valid tag. Bradley Quilici also was charged there with a misdemeanor obstruction charge.

Records obtained by The Associated Press show Dario Quilici held resident sporting licenses in both Nevada and Utah in 2002-2004. Last year, he applied for seven big game hunting permits in Nevada and received a resident archery antelope tag in Pershing County and a coveted resident bull elk tag for Lincoln County.

He was successful in both hunts.

Laws in Nevada, Utah and elsewhere make it a crime to claim residency in more than one state to obtain a hunting or fishing license.

McKenna said Dario Quilici was a student in Utah and never gave up his Nevada residency.

"Residency is a state of mind. It's not a physical location," he said. "Dario voted in Nevada, received mail in Nevada, had accounts in Nevada."

He acknowledged Dario Quilici also held resident fishing licenses in Utah.

"That's an error on his part, but it's not a big deal," McKenna said. "People make mistakes.

"He's always been a Nevada resident, always will be."

In response, Jensen said, "There's multiple facts in the investigation that contradict those statements."

Utah officials also have said they were looking into possible license violations there but would likely defer to Nevada.

Gov. Kenny Guinn appointed Bradley Quilici as a representative to the nine-member board that sets wildlife policy in November 1999.

Two months later it was learned that Quilici had been cited by a game warden in 1982 for trapping violations. He was found guilty of five misdemeanor violations and ordered to pay $100 apiece in fines.

Quilici resigned from the commission May 5.