Florida father, son indicted for Lacey Act violations in Ohio


Lee’s note: A Live Oak father and son have pleaded not guilty to illegally trafficking in white tail deer in Ohio – violations of the Lacy Act.

The pair have white tail breeding and hunting facilities in Ohio and Live Oak, which is located on I-10 between Tallahassee and Jacksonville.

Here’s the story:

Suwannee Democrat

March 13, 2014

Local father, son face charges in Ohio

Bryant Thigpen deer
Suwannee Democrat

Live Oak —

A Live Oak father and son have been indicted by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio on multiple charges for illegally labeling, selling, transporting and allowing the illegal hunt of white-tailed deer, according to indictment documents.

Donald Wainwright, 48, Live Oak, faces 14 counts: one count of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy and 12 counts of violating the Lacey Act.

Donald Wainwright Jr., 28, also of Live Oak, faces nine counts: one county of conspiracy, seven counts of violating the Lacey Act and one count of making a false statement.

On March 6, the Wainwrights stood in a Columbus, Ohio courtroom for an initial appearance, bond hearing and arraignment on indictment before Judge Elizabeth A. Preston Deavers. The Wainwrights pleaded not guilty to indictment charges and are scheduled to begin trial on April 21.

In the conditions of release dated March 6, Donald Wainwright was placed on home detention until trial. His son was released on his own recognizance until trial.

The indictment

According to the indictment filed on March 4, Donald Wainwright was part owner and operator of a white-tailed deer breeding and hunting facility called Valley View Whitetails, located at 6762 Township Road 163, West Liberty, Ohio. He is also the owner and operator of a white-tailed deer breeding and hunting facility also known as Valley View Whitetails, located at 10530 52nd Terrace, Live Oak.

Donald Wainwright also participated in the operation of a white-tailed deer breeding facility called Cherokee Whitetails, LLC, located adjacent to Valley View, Ohio.

The Wainwrights were identified in the indictment as part-time residents of West Liberty, Ohio and of Live Oak.

Until March 15, 2010, Donald Wainwright held a wild animal propagation license enabling him to possess, buy or sell captive-bred white-tailed deer. On March 15, 2010, that license lapsed and had not been re-issued by the date of the indictment. Donald Wainwright also had a license to operate Valley View Whitetails as a wild animal hunting preserve, however, the license lapsed on April 30, 2011 and had not been re-issued.

Donald Wainwright Jr. reportedly assisted at his father’s business at Valley View Ohio.

The federal government and state legislatures have imposed laws to prevent the transmission of diseases by limiting interstate movement and importation of white-tailed deer.

The indictment stated the Wainwrights knowingly and willfully conspired and agreed to: engage in conduct that involved the sale and purchase of, the offer for sale and purchase of, and the intent to sell and purchase white-tailed deer, with a market value greater than $350, by transporting, selling, receiving, acquiring, and/or purchasing the wildlife in violation of state and federal laws; and to knowingly make or submit false records, accounts, and labels for, and/or false identifications of, wildlife that has been, or is intended to be, transported in interstate commerce in the course of a sale or purchase, offer of sale or purchase or commission of an act with intent to sell or purchase wildlife with a market value greater than $350.

In 2009, Donald Wainwright reportedly bought a trophy-sized white-tailed deer, known as Little Moose, from an unnamed co-conspirator for $20,000. The deer was uncertified. However, Donald Wainwright reportedly attached a federal identification tag from a dead deer to Little Moose. The tag stated that animal was certified as disease-free.

Between June 2007 and May 2011, Donald Wainwright reportedly switched ear tags from dead certified white-tailed deer into live uncertified white-tailed deer, and falsified government documents accordingly, in order to increase the resale value of his animals. Donald Wainwright then reportedly sold the breeding services of these deer, which had not been tested to owners of certified deer farms around the state of Ohio.

“As a result, every herd receiving these animals was potentially exposed to diseases which not only have the capacity to infect and kill white-tailed deer, but also to infect and kill cattle and even humans,” the indictment stated.

The indictment state Donald Wainwright violated Florida state law by transporting deer from Ohio to Florida without first testing the animals for tuberculosis and brucellosis.

On Sept. 17, 2010, co-conspirators, at Donald Wainwright’s direction, were reportedly transporting live deer to property in Climax, Ga. The trucks transporting the deer were stopped by law enforcement officers. (The state of Georgia has banned the importation of live white-tailed deer). For this reason, Donald Wainwright directed the co-conspirators to present the officers with documents falsely stating the deer were being transported to Florida, not Georgia.

After Donald Wainwright learned the trucks transporting the deer had been stopped by law enforcement officers, he reportedly asked a co-conspirator (the owner of a certified herd) to falsely report the deer had come from his farm the day before.

From April 13, 2010 through Dec. 31, 2011, Donald Wainwright reportedly sold white-tailed deer to a co-conspirator for a total of $95,268 in cash and services.

On Dec. 13, 2012, Donald Wainwright Jr., reportedly told an undercover federal agent that hunts were presently being held at the Ohio facility; that a small buck would cost $3,000, and no deposit would be required. The indictment states the hunt was scheduled, knowing it was illegal to allow hunting at an unlicensed facility, according to the indictment. Over $92,000 was brought in through hunting fees at the facility in November and December 2012, the indictment states.


Donald Wainwright was charged with one count of conspiracy, 12 counts of violating the Lacey Act (legislates wildlife interstate trafficking), and one count of wire fraud. The wire fraud stems from an electronic transfer of funds from Florida to Ohio.

Donald Wainwright, Jr. is charged with one count of conspiracy, giving false statements, and seven counts of violating the Lacey Act.

Upon conviction of any of the offenses, alleged in counts two through six of the indictment, Donald Wainwright shall forfeit to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission North Central Region any vehicle and other equipment that was used to aid in the violations, including but not limited to: a 2004 Ford Pickup truck, registered to Donald Wainwright, Jr.; and a 2008 Value Hauler trailer.


When contacted by the Democrat, Donald Wainwright said the government has been “maliciously” trying to ruin him for “three or four years.”

“It’s a bad ordeal and it’s a lot on my family,” said Wainwright “They (the government) has maliciously set their sights on one person because they don’t like you and they do everything they can to discredit you, to break you and to bankrupt you. They have endless money, our money.”


About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1777 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.

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