A Wisconsin judge has been charged for violating several hunting restrictions at his cabin late last year. The judge, Michael J. Piontek, 70, is being charged for shining a deer, which carries fines and possibly jail time if he’s found guilty.
Piontek, who is a judge in Wisconsin’s Racine County, owns a cabin in Ashland County where the criminal complaint was filed. Fines for shining are $1,000 or $2,000 depending on the details of the case, and jail time can be up to six months.
Shining is the practice of using a bright light to dazzle game and is illegal in many parts of the country. In addition to shinning deer the Wisconsin game warden investigating found about 21 gallons of bait around Piontek’s cabin, well above the 2-gallon limit.
The original incident dates back to November 26, 2019. A warden with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources saw a six-point buck travel from a wooded area toward Piontek’s property around 7:30 p.m. Hunting hours ended at 4:30 p.m.
Shortly after he heard a shot, and saw the buck run into a field. Piontek and a friend identified as John Tussler, 58, followed the buck with flashlights when the warden stopped the two for questioning.
During questioning, Tussler admitted to shooting the buck using Piontek’s rifle from inside the cabin. The cabin was equipped with a mounted floodlight.
Piontek is facing three charges, illegal shining of a deer, illegal bait and being a party to the violation of shooting a deer after hours.
“Judge Piontek owned the property where another hunter at his hunting camp is alleged to have violated DNR hunting regulations that prohibit hunting by use of an illumination device,” said his attorney, Patrick Cafferty reports the Journal Times. “The illumination device alleged to have been used was a standard porch light on the property.”
“Judge Piontek was charged under a ‘party to’ theory as he is the owner of the property where the other hunter allegedly committed the violations,” he said. “Recently, Judge Piontek was made aware of the allegations and we believe this matter will be resolved quickly and without criminal conviction.”
In 2018 Piontek was cited for possession of a deer showing evidence that it was shot by a firearm during archery season. He brought a deer carcass to a butcher shop for processing that, in addition to being shot with an arrow, also had a bullet hole in its rib cage.
The butcher shop called a game warden to inspect the carcass and the warden confirmed that it was a bullet hole and cited Piontek. Gun season would not start for another 10 days.