The Minnesota dentist accused of hunting and killing a famed lion in Zimbabwe on a trip he paid $55,000 for, has had a previous run-in with the law.
While Dr. Walter Palmer has not been charged in the death of Cecil the Lion, he does have a criminal record that includes a felony conviction in 2008 for making a false statement to federal agents. Palmer pleaded guilty to the charge in 2008 after admitting that he lied about where in Wisconsin he killed a bear in 2006.
According to court documents, the hunting of black bears is allowed in only three zones in Wisconsin. Palmer was licensed in 2006 to hunt black bears only in an area called Subzone A1. Palmer was accused of killing a bear outside that zone, and then lying about where he killed it.
Read the charging document filed by the U.S. Attorney in the case below:
Palmer killed a black bear on September 30, 2006, near Phillips in Price County, Wisconsin, about 40 miles outside the area he was licensed to hunt, court documents show. Palmer and the others on the bear hunt together agreed to say it was killed in Minong, Wisconsin, which is inside Subzone A1, if authorities asked where the bear was killed, prosecutors say.
Palmer and his hunting buddies moved the bear carcass to the registration area in Subzone A1, and Palmer filed a bear registration stub, falsely certifying the bear had been killed in Washburn County in Subzone A1, according to court documents. He then moved the carcass to his home in Minnesota.
In October 2006, Palmer was interviewed by a special agent with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and lied to him, falsely saying he shot the bear legally and in Subzone A1.
Palmer eventually pleaded guilty to the charge. He faced up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. The plea agreement also called for him to forfeit the remains of the bear to federal authorities.
Read the plea agreement below:
Palmer was sentenced to one year of probation and ordered to pay a fine of $2,938.
The sentencing document can be read below:
According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Palmer was also convicted in 2003 of fishing without a license, a misdemeanor, in Otter Tail County, Minnesota. He paid a small fine in that case. And in 2009, he settled sexual harassment allegations filed against him by a former employee.
Palmer could still face charges in Zimbabwe and authorities there say they are looking for him. Two men, the professional hunter Palmer hired and the owner of the land where the lion was killed, have already been criminally charged.
Read more about Palmer at the link below: