Troy Lee Gentry pleaded guilty Monday to a misdemeanor charge of falsely registering a captive bear as being killed in the wild.
Under the plea, the 39-year-old country singer agreed to pay a $15,000 fine, give up hunting, fishing and trapping in Minnesota for five years, and forfeit both the bear’s hide and the bow he used to shoot the animal in 2004. The bear, named “Cubby,” was killed in a 3-acre private enclosure.
The plea meant Gentry avoided a trial, which had been scheduled to start Monday.
Gentry, of Franklin, Tenn., declined to comment to the Star Tribune of Minneapolis as he left the courthouse.
Ron Meshbesher, his attorney, said Gentry pleaded guilty to “a simple charge having to do with improper tagging (of a game animal), and that’s all it ever was.”
Lee Marvin Greenly, 46, Gentry’s local hunting guide, pleaded guilty at the same hearing to two felony charges of helping other hunters shoot bears at illegal baiting stations he maintained inside a national wildlife refuge near Sandstone in east-central Minnesota.
Greenly faces a maximum prison sentence of five years for each count, forfeiture of all-terrain vehicles he and employees used to reach the bait stations, and a maximum fine of $400,000.
Gentry told the court he bought the bear from Greenly with the understanding they would videotape a hunt inside the bear’s enclosure, which was surrounded by an electric fence.
“Lee and I made a deal about harvesting this bear,” Gentry testified. They also agreed to report it was killed in the wild 6 miles east of Sandstone instead of on Greenly’s property south of the town.
U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson ordered a pre-sentence investigation for both Gentry and Greenly and told them to appear for sentencing at a date to be announced later, or risk an additional charge.
In exchange for Gentry’s plea, federal prosecutors dropped a felony charge of violating the Lacey Act, which authorities said bans possessing or transporting illegally obtained wildlife.
Gentry and Eddie Montgomery are the country singing duo Montgomery Gentry. Their hits include “My Town” and “If You Ever Stop Loving Me.”