Two arrested after lengthy investigation into illegal venison sales

EDMESTON – The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced on May 12, that following a two-year investigation by the DEC Environmental Conservation Officers (ECO's) that they uncovered an illegal venison sales operation in the town of Edmeston, in Otsego County.

According to a press release from DEC, members of DEC's Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation (BECI) unit executed a search warrant recently at a butchers shop in Edmeston named Farmers Place.

During the course of executing the search warrant, DEC ECO's recovered more than 3,600 pounds of illegal venison meat and products.

The longtime owner of Farmers Place, Joseph Leonard, 73, also known as "The Deer Man," was arrested and charged with illegal commercialization of wildlife, a felony; grand larceny, a felony; illegal scheme to defraud in the first degree, a class E felony; and criminal solicitation in the fourth degree, a class A misdemeanor.

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