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Country singer Gentry pleads guilty in bear tagging case

Country singer Gentry pleads guilty in bear tagging case

DULUTH, Minn. (AP) — Musician Troy Lee Gentry pleaded guilty Monday to a federal misdemeanor charge of falsely registering a trophy bear he killed — named "Cubby" — as wild when it was actually shot in a 3-acre private enclosure.

Under the plea, the 39-year-old country singer agreed to pay a $15,000 fine, give up hunting, fishing and trapping in Minnesota for five years and forfeit both the bear’s hide and the bow he used to shoot the animal near Sandstone in 2004.

The plea meant Gentry avoided a trial, which was scheduled to start Monday.

Gentry is half of the singing duo Montgomery Gentry, a top country act since the late 1990s.

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Gentry’s local hunting guide pleaded guilty at the same hearing to two felony charges of helping other hunters shoot bears at illegal baiting stations he maintained inside a national wildlife refuge near Sandstone in east-central Minnesota.

The guide, Lee Marvin Greenly, 46, faces a maximum prison sentence of five years for each count, forfeiture of ATVs he and employees used to reach the bait stations and a maximum fine of $400,000 and

Gentry told the court he bought the bear from Greenly with the understanding that they would videotape a hunt inside the bear’s enclosure, which was surrounded by an electric fence.

"Lee and I made a deal about harvesting this bear," Gentry testified. They also agreed to report it was killed in the wild six miles east of Sandstone instead of on Greenly’s property south of the town.

Gentry, of Franklin, Tenn., declined to comment to the Star Tribune of Minneapolis as he left the courthouse. Ron Meshbesher, his attorney, said his client pleaded guilty to "a simple charge having to do with improper tagging (of a game animal), and that’s all it ever was."

U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson ordered a pre-sentence investigation for both Gentry and Greenly and told them to appear for sentencing at a date to be announced later, or risk an additional charge.

In exchange for Gentry’s plea, federal prosecutors dropped a felony charge of violating the Lacey Act, which authorities said bans possessing or transporting illegally obtained wildlife.

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Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com

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