August 18, 2003
NEW BERN - United States Attorney Frank D. Whitney announced that Allan White Ballance appeared in federal court in New Bern, North Carolina, on Monday, August 18, 2003, and pled guilty to the unauthorized removal of water from the Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge in Swan Quarter, North Carolina. Chief U. S. District Judge Terrence W. Boyle presided. Ballance, 74, of Route 1, Fairfield, North Carolina, was charged in a Criminal Information filed by the United States Attorney’s Office on May 15, 2003.
Ballance could receive a
maximum sentence of one year imprisonment, a fine of $100,000.00, and
a supervised release term of one year. In accordance with his plea agreement
with the government, he has already paid restitution in the amount of
$27,875.00 to the U.
S. Fish and Wildlife Service – $3,500.00 to repair
the road, vegetation, and earthen damage on the Mattamuskeet National
Wildlife Refuge, and $24,375.00 for the cost of the illegally taken
water. His sentencing date has not been set.
The Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge, located in Hyde County, N. C., was purchased by the United States government in 1934 and consists of 50,000 acres of water, marsh, and woods. The dominant feature of the refuge is Lake Mattamuskeet, which is 18 miles long, seven miles wide, and fairly shallow. It is the largest natural lake in North Carolina.
The primary mission of the refuge is to protect and enhance waterfowl habitat within its boundaries and to provide a secure and protected area for wintering populations of migratory birds. Because the refuge is in the middle of the Atlantic Flyway, it provides a valuable wintering area for the waterfowl using this migration route. Over 800 species of wildlife and birds make the refuge their home for all or part of the year, including thousands of Canada geese, snow geese, and tundra swans. In addition, the refuge provides a habitat for endangered species, such as the bald eagle and the peregrine falcon. In furtherance of its mission, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service established impoundments on the edge of Lake Mattamuskeet to ensure that migratory birds and waterfowl would have places of refuge where water and food are available.
U. S. Attorney Whitney noted that on March 14, 2003, the National Wildlife Refuge System celebrated its Centennial Anniversary–-100 years of conserving and protecting a variety of habitats and animal species.
Investigation of the case was conducted by Special Agents of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement. Assistant U. S. Attorney Banumathi Rangarajan is handling the case for the government.
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Atlanta, GA 30345