An Irasburg couple, whom authorities alleged ran one of the most elaborate deer poaching operations in Vermont history, recently agreed to a plea deal that saw them lose their hunting privileges but avoid prison.
In Orleans Superior Court earlier this month, Wayne Dion pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of failure to tag big game and no contest to misdemeanor charges of baiting deer and taking deer out of season. Jennie Dion pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of possessing a deer taken by illegal means.
Wayne Dion, 67, was ordered to pay more than $2,500 in fines and restitution. Jennie Dion, 65, was ordered to pay $1,500 in fines and restitution.
As part of the agreement, both will lose their hunting licenses for five years, Orleans County State's Attorney Jennifer Barrett said in an interview.
Barrett said she agreed to the deal in part because the Dions did not have criminal records, and sentences that include prison time for first-time offenders charged with misdemeanors are rare.
The Dions' attorney, Kyle Hatt, did not respond to a phone message.
The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department said wardens had been investigating the Dions for several years. When wardens finally arrested the Dions in 2014, they uncovered evidence that the Dions had been drawing deer to their house with bait and had installed a shooting port in their bedroom, according to court documents.
In an interview with Seven Days last year, Wayne Dion had said he expected to be exonerated and was offended by the allegations made by the wardens.
"It hurts my feelings," Dion said. "It's like I'm going to have a heart attack, it hurts that much. I appreciate deer."