DNR employees stole animal heads and skins, suit claims

By Cara Bailey | Dec 21, 2007

CHARLESTON - An Upshur County man has filed a suit against the Division of Natural Resources and some of its employees, claiming they broke into his garage and stole several animal heads and skins.

CHARLESTON - An Upshur County man has filed a suit against the Division of Natural Resources and some of its employees, claiming they broke into his garage and stole several animal heads and skins.

Wayne Crim filed the suit Nov. 30 in Kanawha Circuit Court against the DNR, Director Frank Jezioro and two conservation officers, Douglas Benson and Jeffery T. Craig.

According to the suit, Craig and Benson went to Crim's Buckhannon garage and entered it. Crim claims the garage was locked and he did not give consent for the officers to enter, which violated his Fourth Amendment rights.

The suit says the men tried to get permission from Crim's wife to enter the property, but Crim claims she did not have access -- or any right to access -- the garage.

While trying to enter the garage, Crim claims Benson and Craig broke a screen door and a window.

Once in the garage, the officers seized Crim's personal property, including several preserved animals heads and skins.

"These heads and skins were preserved by the means of taxidermy and were the lawful personal property of the plaintiff," the suit says.

Crim claims he demanded return of his personal property Jan. 18, 2007, and compensation for the damages to his residence. However, no action has been taken in the manner.

Also, the unlawful entry onto Crim's property constitutes a trespass for which the defendants are liable for damages, the suit says.

According to the suit, the acts of the defendants were fraudulent, malicious and otherwise oppressive. Crim claims they should have known their acts and conduct were in violation of settled law.

Crim, through Clarksburg attorney Gregory H. Sehillace, seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

The case has been assigned to Judge James Stucky.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 07-C-2566

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