A two-year investigation by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) revealed that ringleader John Zayac, 70, of Broadview Heights, worked with seven others to intentionally falsify information to the state of Ohio regarding the number of deer they bagged as required by law.
Co-defendants include Zayac’s wife Rebecca Gregerson, 60; Terrance Ankrom, 52, and his wife Tina, 42, of Kent; John Stofan, 52, of North Royalton; John Frost, 78, of Brecksville; Todd Neczeporenko, 46, of Jefferson; and Craig Steed, 38, of Newton Falls.
The illegal hunting was conducted in Brecksville, North Royalton, and Broadview Heights, Richfield, and processed in Ashtabula County.
“The Ohio Department of Natural Resources should be commended for their diligence,” Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael C. O’Malley. “This investigation took time and patience to show that these individuals were illegally and egregiously stealing natural resources from our great state.”
The investigation showed that Zayac organized “deer drives” and allow the co-defendants to bring the poached deer to his property to be skinned and dressed for processing. Zayac made the arrangements with the processors and decided the form in which the meat would be processed. The large quantities of meat were produced without the proper tags, rendering it unlawful to sell.
The defendants would kill more than the allotted one buck per license, which is called “over-bagging.”
To produce more meat, they would kill multiple bucks each season and report them as does. Zayac and his wife Rebecca Gregerson, falsified online records regarding the number of deer they bagged.
The Ankroms are accused of illegally overbagged deer and falsified their hunting activities, as well as the activities of their son-in-law Steed’s tags and the tags of Terrence’s father-in-law.
The same activity was mirrored by John Stofan, who used John Frost’s tags to overbag and falsely report his numbers to the state.
Further investigation showed that Stofan, contrary to the deer hunting laws in the state of Ohio, would lure deer to his property at night by placing corn near motion-activated lights so he could easily shoot them.
Neczeporenko, the owner of Smokin’ T’s in Jefferson, would accept and pay for the large quantities of deer meat without the appropriate tags brought in by Zayac and process the meat.
Arraignments have not yet been scheduled.