HARRISBURG, PA - Poachers take note: You can run, but you can’t hide.
A former Pennsylvania resident who fled to Kentucky to avoid facing a host of game-law charges was brought back Wednesday by state police and turned over to the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
Zachary L. Scheffel, 41, formerly of Milroy, Mifflin County, touched down Wednesday at Capital City Airport in New Cumberland and immediately was taken by game wardens to Mifflin County Prison, where he is jailed in lieu of $10,000 bail on 72 counts – including two felonies – of violating various game laws, as well as a charge of making, repairing or selling offensive weapons.
Additionally, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has opened an investigation into allegations Scheffel made death threats against the game warden who arrested him, the judge presiding over his case and others, meaning additional charges could follow, both at the federal level and in Kentucky.
Scheffel was charged in September by State Game Warden Amanda Isett after the execution of a search warrant uncovered a multitude of game-law violations, including two felony charges for the unlawful killing or taking of deer. Scheffel, whose hunting and trapping privileges had been revoked for previous game-law violations, was found in unlawful possession of a number of nonliving game animals, furbearers and wildlife parts, including two racks from whitetail bucks, numerous other deer parts, as well as raccoons, opossums, chipmunks and a muskrat.
Before facing the charges in court, Scheffel fled Pennsylvania to Kentucky, though his specific whereabouts were unknown. He was located in Kentucky earlier this month, and police obtained information that Scheffel had told others he planned to return to Pennsylvania May 13 to kill “any law enforcement he comes in contact with, specifically the State Game Warden in Mifflin County” who charged him, as well as the judge and two other individuals involved in the case.
The Kentucky State Police, along with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, apprehended Scheffel on May 10 and took him into custody, and the Pennsylvania Game Commission began the process of extraditing him back to Pennsylvania.
Scheffel was flown back to Pennsylvania with the assistance of the Pennsylvania State Police’s Aviation Unit, accompanied by Game Commission special investigators. Upon landing at Capitol City Airport, Scheffel was turned over to state game wardens from the Southcentral Region and returned to Mifflin County to face his charges.
Presently Scheffel faces two felony counts of unlawfully killing or taking of big game, two counts of unlawful acts concerning licenses, 33 counts of unlawful taking or possession of game or wildlife, two counts of unlawful devices and methods, 18 counts of exercising the privileges granted by a permit without first securing the required permit, 15 counts of unlawful acts concerning the taking of furbearers, and a misdemeanor count of making, repairing or selling offensive weapons.
This is believed to be the first time a fugitive facing game-law charges from Pennsylvania was extradited from another state.
“The success of this extradition is a product of excellent cooperation across the many law-enforcement agencies involved,” said Jason DeCoskey, who heads the Game Commission’s Bureau of Wildlife Protection. “It’s a true testament to the professionalism of those agencies, and serves notice to the serious treatment wildlife crimes deservedly receive.”
MEDIA CONTACT: Travis Lau - 717-705-6541
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