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Hazlehurst man pleads guilty to poaching

Clark Dixon, 41, a Hazlehurst man who hosted the TV show “Syndicate Hunting” in Alaska, is scheduled for sentencing on Friday after pleading guilty to federal charges of illegal hunting under the Lacey Act.

“Along with the agreement to plead guilty, Clark Dixon has also agreed to a sentence of 18 months in prison, a fine of $75,000 and forfeiture of 17 trophies including grizzly bear, Dall sheep and caribou, along with bows and several rifles used in the illegal take of game in Alaska,” a news release by United States Attorney Karen Loeffler said.

Dixon admitted to assisting Clarency Michael Osborn in the illegal hunting of a grizzly bear in 2009 without a guide or permits and falsifying records to show that the bear was killed by his father, Charles Dixon, according to Loeffler.

“The plea agreement also covers the allegation that at the time the violations were committed, Clark Dixon illegally claimed Alaska residency status while being a resident of the state of Mississippi,” the release stated. “The charges against Clark Dixon reflect that he lied about his residency status in order to take advantage of Alaska resident hunting privileges, thus nullifying all of his Alaska hunts which resulted in the forfeiture of the 17 trophies and firearms.”

Charles Dixon also pleaded guilty to two violations of the Lacey Act. He agreed to pay a fine of $15,000 and $10,000 in restitution to the Noatak Preserve. Charles Dixon’s STOL Quest SQ-4 aircraft, used to take game illegally out of the preserve, has also been taken.

Clarence Michael Osborn, 53, of Madison, also pleaded guilty to one Lacey Act violation. Osborn was sentenced to pay a $65,000 fine, $16,000 in restitution to Noatak park and five years probation with the condition that he not hunt anywhere in the world. He was also required to forfeit the rifle and scope used to kill the bear, along with several mounts, and he’s required to issue public service announcements to hunting publications about his crimes.

“Citations from the National Park Service for conducting filming operations on the Noatak Preserve without a permit were also issued to The Outdoor Syndicate, LLC, in Reno, Nevada, its owner Michael P. Dianda, and an editing studio, Zap Lab, Ltd, in Reno, Nevada,” the release said. “The citations were issued due to the failure of Clark Dixon and another professional videographer to acquire footage for and used on “The Syndicate” without first obtaining a permit to commercially film on the preserve. All have paid their fines in connection with the case.”

Terry Goza, 71, of Hazlehurst also pleaded guilty to illegally killing a sheep in the Noatak Preserve. He was sentenced to probation and a $7,500 fine.  Footage of that hunt was broadcast on the show.