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Published: Friday, 10/26/2007

Pair convicted, fined in steelhead poaching case

Two men have been convicted for poaching steelhead trout after they decided to post a video of their illegal activities on the popular YouTube Web site.

Phillipe Jullien, 25, a resident of France, and Joseph Iacobucci, 57, of Gates Mills, were found guilty by Judge Mary Kaye Bozza in Lyndhurst, Ohio, Municipal Court of poaching steelhead from a tributary of the Chagrin River in Cuyahoga County, east of Cleveland, the Ohio Division of Wildlife said.

Jullien was charged with two counts of taking steelhead with the use of a net and one count of fishing without a license. He has returned to France, but was found guilty in absentia in a plea bargain through an attorney. Judge Bozza fined him $250 with $50 suspended on terms of good behavior.

Iacobucci was charged with aiding Jullien in the unlawful taking of steelhead and was fined $250.

Both men also received 30-day suspended jail sentences.

A home video of the illegal activity, dating to September, 2006, was posted on the YouTube Web site. Some viewers reported it to the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

"We got notified by someone who picked it up on YouTube," said Doug Miller, law enforcement supervisor for Ohio Wildlife District 3 at Akron. He explained the whole case took a while to develop.

The video the men shot even showed a caption identifying the Chagrin River and Gates Mills, the men even calling one another by their first names, Miller said.

The lawman added that Jullien was shown snatching one steelhead by hand then dipping more by net, the latter being illegal, while Iacobucci assisted.

The video went on to show men pretending to do CPR on a steelhead, one of them wielding a stethoscope, which implied involvement of a medical professional.

Wildlife investigators, searching the Ohio State Medical Board directory, eventually tracked down a physician on whose property the poaching occurred. The physician was not charged in the case, Miller said.

It took a while to make contact with the suspects, Miller said, "[but] we found out who it was." Broadcasting the video tale on a Cleveland TV station also helped develop leads.

The wildlife supervisor added that Jullien had posted a photograph of his Jeep on YouTube - complete with its license plate. "That was pretty much a no-brainer."

Indeed, in more ways than one.

A northern shrike, a robin-sized bird of prey of the upper latitudes, was captured and banded locally this week by researchers from the Black Swamp Bird Observatory.

Known as the butcher bird for its habit of impaling prey on thorns or in branches until it is ready to eat, the shrike is rarely seen in this region, perhaps with just one or two seen each winter, said Julie Shieldcastle, a BSBO researcher. The species preys upon small mammals, especially rodents, small birds, and insects but is aggressive and will attack birds as large as blue jays.

The captured shrike, a juvenile, and another unusual capture, an immature Cooper's hawk, both were snared Monday in research nets at the BSBO field station in Navarre Marsh, which is owned by First Energy next to the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station. The captures were part of BSBO's fall migration monitoring and banding project. Both birds were banded and released.

A photograph of the shrike and other details appear on the observatory Web site at www.bsbobird.org under "BSBO bander's blog."

An Ohio regulatory reform task force on Lake Erie fishing is scheduled to meet Monday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., in the East Lounge, Firelands Campus, Bowling Green State University, in Huron.

Topics on the agenda include proposed revision of the commercial fishing quota-allocation system for yellow perch and devices for monitoring commercial fishing vessels and reporting the catch of those vessels electronically.

The task force includes 15 members representing sport and commercial fishing interests, the Ohio Division of Wildlife, fish wholesalers, charter boat operators, academic institutions, the Ohio General Assembly, and the office of Gov. Ted Strickland.

A bill signed into law in July ordered the creation of the task force to address these agenda issues with a mandate to report its findings by Dec. 31.



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