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A Whitewood man is expected to admit to breaking a federal wildlife trafficking law while guiding illegal hunting trips to the Pine Ridge Reservation. 

If Everett Thomas MacKaben Jr. pleads guilty to violating the Lacey Act, it is a crime that carries maximum punishments of five years in prison and/or $250,000 in fines, according to his plea deal.

Both the prosecution and defense will ask the judge to sentence MacKaben to three years of probation and ban him from hunting and guiding during that period, according to the deal. They will ask that MacKaben pay a $10,000 fine to the federal government and $26,825 — the amount of money he earned as a guide, plus the value of some deer — in restitution to the tribe. MacKaben has also agreed to forfeit antlers and two deer he killed on the reservation. 

The Lacey Act is violated if a state, local or tribal wildlife law is broken while engaging in interstate commerce, federal prosecutor Eric Kelderman previously told the Journal. MacKaben is accused of breaking two state laws and a tribal one and then selling illegally hunted deer to other states, according to his indictment. 

The investigation into MacKaben began after a a ranger with the Oglala Sioux Parks and Recreation Authority tipped off a special agent with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, according to a factual basis document signed by MacKaben.

The agent then confronted MacKaben and two other men who were hunting on tribal land on Nov. 12, 2016, and found that none of them had tribal hunting licenses, the document says. The agent continued investigating and found that MacKaben had been paid to guide white-tailed and mule deer hunts on the reservation for several years without proper hunting licenses. After the hunt, MacKaben prepared meat and taxidermy in a cabin before shipping them to his clients. 

The agent interviewed 12 people from North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Colorado who admitted to participating in deer and pronghorn hunts between 2011-2016, the document says. Some voluntarily agreed to ship the agent the animals they illegally took. One woman said she paid MacKaben about $1,500 in guide fees while a couple said they paid $2,200. 

MacKaben also admitted to being a guide and hunting without a tribal license. 

"He expressed remorse and said he was the person most responsible for the offenses," the document says. 

MacKaben, who is out of custody on a personal recognizance bond, does not yet have a change-of-plea hearing scheduled.

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— Contact Arielle Zionts at arielle.zionts@rapidcityjournal.com

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