Louisiana men plead guilty in Gulfport to deer-smuggling

rfitzgerald@sunherald.comJuly 7, 2014 

GULFPORT -- Three Pearl River, La., family members and their family-managed business have pleaded guilty in a conspiracy to smuggle 52 white-tailed deer into Mississippi.

Ronald Reine, 67, Brian Reine, 44, Bruce Swilley, 27, and Omni Pinnacle LLC accepted plea agreements Monday in U.S. District Court in Gulfport.

The father, son and grandson will remain free on bond pending sentencing hearings Oct. 1 before Judge Sul Ozerden.

Brian Reine faces maximum penalties of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Ronald Reine, chief executive officer of Omni, and Swilley each face up to a year in prison and a maximum fine of $100,000.

The business, also managed by Brian Reine, faces a year's probation and a fine of up to $500,000.

Omni provided a 2009 Ford F350 truck to transport deer from other states to wildlife enclosures operated by the Reines from October 2011 through November 2012, a court document said.

The deer, worth about $350 each or a minimum of $110,000, were taken to Hunter's Ridge in Pearl River County and Half Moon Ranch in Lamar County. The deer were brought from Kentucky, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Louisiana for breeding and hunting.

Omni is a disaster debris management business. Court papers show the company has admitted it allowed the use of its heavy equipment to build facilities at both wildlife enclosures, paid for some of the deer and used the facilities for business development.

A multi-count indictment accused the men and the business of violating the Lacey Act, a federal conservation law. State and federal laws prohibit bringing white-tailed deer into Mississippi to protect the state's deer population from chronic wasting disease and bovine tuberculosis.

The indictment was filed in February.

Brian Reine had planned to attend World Cup matches with his family in Rio de Janerio in June. An attorney asked the judge to lift travel restrictions, saying Reine had paid about $80,000 in non-refundable costs. He was not allowed to make the trip.

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