Ex-Football Player Pleads to Poaching


New member
Dec 20, 2000
Jackson, Wyoming
Published Tuesday, January 6, 2004

Ex-Football Player Pleads to Poaching

A former Miami Dolphins running back pleaded no contest Monday to five criminal charges in connection with one of the largest alligator poaching cases on record.

A year ago, Jack Ridley Harper, 57, a marina owner and fishing tournament promoter from Boca Grande, was charged with 67 felony counts.

But in Polk Circuit Court in Bartow, prosecutors knocked that down to one count of dealing in stolen property and four counts of identity theft.

The St. Petersburg Times reported that as part of the plea deal, Harper was sentenced to five years' probation, during which he cannot get a hunting or fishing license from any state and shall not promote any fishing or hunting tournaments.

He was fined $1,500 and must repay the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission $15,000 for the cost of its 11-month investigation. He also forfeited his airboat to the state.

Investigators for the commission, whose southwest regional office is in Lakeland, discovered Harper was forging signatures on applications for state-issued alligator harvest permits. He illegally captured about 60 gators and sold the meat and hides.

Wildlife officials became suspicious when they noticed that a large number of permit applications listed Harper's address. When officers checked with people whose names were on the hunting permits, some said they had never hunted.