Jun. 7—KEYSER, W.Va. — Another plea agreement that exchanged jail time for house arrest was made in West Virginia's largest known deer poaching case that started earlier this year and includes eight defendants, three counties and nearly 30 illegally killed bucks.
Colton Broadwater, 24, of Keyser, in January was charged with 11 counts each of nighttime hunting and spotlighting, two counts failure to register deer, 14 counts illegal wildlife possession, eight counts conspiracy, nine counts hunting in closed season, 10 counts hunting from vehicle, five counts loaded firearm in vehicle, one count uncased firearm in vehicle, five counts trespassing, nine counts exceeding yearly deer limit and one count receiving or transferring stolen property.
He was released on a $27,000 bond.
On Monday, Broadwater was in Mineral County Magistrate Court where he entered a no contest plea in a deal that dismissed several counts, requires him to spend 160 days on house arrest and will end "in time for Christmas," his attorney, Brian Vance, said.
Grant County Magistrate Emory Feaster Jr., who presided over the case, said the state and defense attorneys had "clearly" agreed on the punishment, and asked West Virginia Natural Resources Police Sgt. Michael Lott if he felt it was fair and just.
"Yes," Lott said.
In addition to fines and court costs, Broadwater was ordered to pay $33,000 in replacement fees based on the antler spread of each illegally killed deer.
There were 11 replacement fees that ranged from $500 to $8,000.
Broadwater on June 27 must report to the Mineral County Sheriff's Department and be fitted with a GPS electronic monitoring ankle-worn bracelet.
"You don't want to screw this up," Feaster told Broadwater.
Broadwater said he will serve his sentence at his mother's house in Keyser.
Under the county's provisions, he will pay a one-time $75 connection fee for the monitor and $32 per day of house arrest, which is based on his income of $32 per hour.
Broadwater was also ordered to pay $1,460 in fines and $7,160 for court costs.
The terms of Broadwater's house arrest also stipulate that no firearms or alcohol can be in the residence, he is not allowed to own a firearm and he must meet with the sheriff weekly.
In January, West Virginia NRP Lt. Timothy L. White said 223 charges that involved at least 27 antlered bucks taken illegally were filed in Mineral, Grant and Hampshire counties in West Virginia.
The offenses started in mid-September and continued through late December, White said.
In addition to Broadwater, others charged were Ivy Rodehaver, Robert Horner Sr., Robert "Beau" Horner Jr., Gregory Broadwater, Christopher Biggs, Tyler Biggs and Dalton Dolly.
Tyler Biggs and Dolly were Mineral County sheriff's deputies at the time of the alleged crimes and resigned from their jobs.
Gregory Broadwater last month entered a plea of no contest for counts including failure to register, illegal possession of wildlife and conspiracy.
According to recent plea agreements in the case, Tyler Biggs is currently under house arrest.
Rodehaver and Dolly are set to appear in Mineral County Magistrate Court June 13.
Christopher Biggs, appointed EMS chief of the Allegany County Department of Emergency Services in 2019, was suspended from his job and is scheduled to appear, along with the Horners, in Mineral County Magistrate Court next month.
Nearly three months before the deer poaching-related charges were made public, the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1715 in Cumberland, which represents paid full-time firefighters and emergency medical services personnel, asked Allegany County officials to remove Christopher Biggs from his position as EMS chief for reasons including questionable integrity.
Allegany County officials since last year have maintained they are investigating the union's complaints against Christopher Biggs.
Meanwhile, Local 1715 awaits results of that investigation.
Teresa McMinn is a reporter for the Cumberland Times-News. She can be reached at 304-639-2371 or email@example.com.