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Lewes, Delaware
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March 13, 1998     Cape Gazette
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March 13, 1998
 

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Eagle killer could face state charges By Kerry Kester Douglas Sipple, 51, of George- town, who pleaded guilty to killing a bald eagle and was sub- sequently sentenced in federal court, could faces charges from the state for the same crimes he committed againstthe country. Deputy Attorney General Keith Trostle said on March 11, that he is aware of the charges Sipple pleaded to and is studying the case. "Mr. Sipple has been ad- vised that we are looking at it," said Trostle, who declined further comment. During Sipple's sentencing on March 5, U.S. Magistrate Mary Pat Trostle noted for the record that in Delaware, bald eagles are "endangered," meaning they are likely to become extinct. On a na- tional level, the birds are consid- ered "threatened," a slightly lesser degree of classification. Trostle explained eagle mating, nesting and reproduction practices and cited statistics to Sipple. She noted that in 1996, of the 14 nests in Delaware only seven produced: approximately 14 chicks, or two per mating pair. "The bald eagle is a national symbol of this coun- try," said Trostle. "So Mr. Sipple, you did not only kill a predatory bird; you essentially assassinated part of the country's tradition and significantly reduced Delaware's future eagle population, making extinction more likely. "Not to be ignored, and more importantly, was a significant hu- man health risk associated with your indiscriminate use of this pesticide. You regularly took your 10-year-old son with you, while dispersing this poison, and exposed him to potential dangers. You left this poison in the form of meatballs - easily accessible to other humans and in particular, children." Trostle gave Sipple an opportu- nity to address the court prior to his sentencing. "I just wanted to say I'm very sorry for this situa- tion - that this confusion has been brought on by my actions, that it is a situation in which I feel that some of the people in the commu- nity thought that I was after them, and that's not the case at all," said Sipple. "I just wanted to assure them that wasn't the case and this situa- tion where my son was taken, and turned against me there for awhile and taken off, and by my actions, I fully admit that. I have done some penance here. It's just bad judg- ment and stupidity on my part. I'm sorry for all of the confusion for everybody's life - mostly my son," he said. Trostle said she had received letters about Sipple on an almost daily basis for the last couple of months. "It has to be everybody in Sussex County, it seems," she said. "The public of Sussex County and wildlife groups have been quite vocLregarding their opinion as to what type of sen- tence should be applied in your case. There's no doubt, Mr. Sip- pie, that you've created an air of fear, distrust and animosity in that community where you live. There's no doubt that your con- duct clearly destroyed numerous animals, both domestic and wild." New Homes Ready For Spring., Judge explains sentence What motivated Trostle's sen- tencing decision, she said, was that she perceived Sipple's actions as being solely for financial gain. Sipple, who operated a dog-train- ing business, kept rabbits to train them. He dispersed meatballs laced with carbofuran (Furadan) throughout property, located near his residence near the shopping center at the Route 113 and Route 9 intersection in Georgetown, with the intent that the poison would kill any creatures likely to prey on the rabbits. Not only did a bald eagle die; an undetermined number of other creatures died from poisoning, in- cluding a red-tailed hawk, turkey vultures, cats and dogs. The charges stemming from those in- cidents were not the first Sipple had faced as a result of his con- duct. In 1994, he pleaded guilty and was fined for violating Delaware law, when he pole- trapped hawks. Linda Kahoe, one of Sipple's neighbors, took him to court on Jan. 23, 1998, for a civil suit, claiming he was responsible for killing her dalmatian in Septem- ber 1995. That case resulted in a settlement, with Sipple agreeing to pay Kahoe $900 and giving her a written apology. Judge Trostle sentenced Sipple, for the federal charges, to five years probation, with the first six months on home detention. While detained at his residence, he must wear an electronic device; he will be allowed to leave the premises rarely - only for matters concern- ing the health or educational needs of his son - and only with prior approval from his probation officer. Trostle also ordered Sipple to pay $20,000 in restitution, with the money being equally divided between the New Jersey Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife Nongame Wildlife Fund and the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife Nongame Wildlife Fund. Sipple must make monthly pay- ments of $100 for the first 18 months; thereafter, he must pay $500 a month until the debt is paid. The judge also imposed a $5,000 fine and a $25 special as- sessment. Trostle told Sipple that she also believed it was necessary to require him to perform 400 hours of community service, to be determined by his probation offi- cer. She said she expected the ser- vice to be aligned with the nature of his crime, such as working at a humane society or for the Tri- State Bird Rescue operation. Trostle said Sipple must make full restitution and pay all of his fines before his probation ends. Trostle rejected the federal gov- ernment's request that Sipple be issued a qualified no-contact order for Priscilla Jones, his former wife and a witness in the federal case. Since Jones and Sipple share cus- tody of their son, she said such an order would be too difficult to en- force. However, she warned Sip- pie against behaving in any man- ner that would be perceived as il- legal: "If you violate any terms or conditions of your probation, in- cluding violating any federal, state or local law, this court will look on it with strong disfavor and will be inclined to strongly consider and impose an imprisonment, as well as require you to meet the fine and restitution requirements," the judge told Sipple. Compare Our CD Rates Bank-issued, FDIC-insured to $100,000 3-year 5.85  APY*   $Ii,000 *Annual Percentage Yield (APY) - Interest cannot remain on deposit, periodic payout of interest is required. Effective 3/I0/98 Call or stop by today for more information. 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