A former Lame Deer resident now living in California admitted to dealing in migratory bird parts, including eagle and hawk feathers.
Steven Patrick Garcia, 36, of San Jose, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Billings on Wednesday to two counts, including unlawfully offering for sale and selling migratory birds in 2008 and unlawful migratory bird trafficking in 2009.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Smith said Garcia, using a MySpace account, sold a California resident hawk feathers and a golden eagle feather for $225 in 2008. A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agent interviewed the buyer, who voluntarily gave up the feathers.
During an undercover investigation, an FWS agent communicated with Garcia through MySpace about buying hawk and eagle feathers. Garcia agreed to sell the agent two hawk tails for $250 and suggested they “wait till I get a baldie in before I take any funds … I have one now just haven’t cleaned it up yet … SO I’ll let you know by this weekend so I can clean it and see if it’s worthy of selling,” Smith said.
The agent mailed a money order to Garcia in Lame Deer and received 12 ferruginous hawk and 12 rough-legged hawk tail feathers.
In another transaction in February 2009, Garcia sent the agent golden eagle wing feathers in exchange for $400.
When interviewed, Garcia told agents he knew he could not legally possess feathers because he was not an enrolled member of an Indian tribe and knew it was illegal to sell, kill, buy and trade eagles and other birds.
Garcia faces a maximum of five years in prison and a possible $250,000 fine. Chief U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull set sentencing for April 18 and continued Garcia’s release.