Thursday, July 14, 2011

By Susan Tuz, NewsTimes.com

New Milford attorney Paul Garlasco has found himself on the wrong side of the law — ENCON law, that is.

A pre-trial hearing is set for July 28 in Bantam Superior Court, at which Garlasco will defend himself on seven charges of violation of wild-game hunting regulations.

If found guilty, he would face a $200 fine on each count or not more than 60 days in jail on each count.

The charges stem from an April 1 arrest by the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Environmental Conservation Police for trapping of foxes out of season and trapping on private land without the landowner’s written permission, as well as five counts of using illegal traps.

Calls to Garlasco for comment were not returned.

He was identified to ENCON police as the man an Eagle Drive neighbor saw repeatedly leaving a wooded area on the road carrying traps and bringing “a dead fox out of the woods,” according to an ENCON investigative report.

Garlasco admitted to an ENCON officer that he set the traps, police said.

He said “several foxes had recently attacked his chickens and cat and claimed he thought they might be rabid,” and that he had permission to trap from the property owner, Rich Salimone, police said.

Garlasco allegedly had set five steel conibear traps and two Havahart live-capture traps next to fox burrows. Two of the found traps each contained half a dead fox carcass, another had a fox tail, others had chicken parts, the report states.

Conibear traps are designed for underwater use in hunting beaver, ENCON police said. They are not meant to be set on the ground.

When called the day of the arrest, Salimone told the ENCON officer he had only given verbal permission to Garlasco to be on his land, police said, and told Garlasco to only use live traps.

ENCON police said Salimone later refused to give a written statement.

According to the police report, Garlasco “tried begging for a break,” saying “court personnel and other officers he knew would be very disappointed and might not speak with him if he were to be arrested.”

Garlasco has requested a jury trial on the charges, according to the state prosecutor’s office at Bantam Superior Court. Declining further comment on the case, prosecutors said a person has the right to request a jury trial on any charges.

ENCON Director Col. Kyle Overturf said suspects charged with such misdemeanor counts “usually don’t go to a jury trial.”

“If this does go before a jury, the prosecutor will put on the case he or she has prepared,” Overturf said. “The (ENCON) officers will probably be brought into court to testify and photos taken of the traps as found set will be brought in as well.”

Contact Susan Tuz at stuz@newstimes.com or 860-355-7322

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