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BOZEMAN — A 42-year-old Washington man accused of illegally killing five antelope and two whitetail deer in the Bridger Mountain area near Bozeman has been sentenced to 3 ½ years on probation, must pay more than $6,000 in fines and fees and will not be allowed to hunt or trap for a decade.

Jeffrey C. Fritz appeared before District Judge Holly Brown on Tuesday and pleaded guilty to seven misdemeanor charges of illegal possession of game animals. The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports the charges were reduced from felonies as part of a plea deal that called on Fritz to cooperate with investigators in a larger poaching scheme.

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Fritz is accused of being part of a larger illegal hunt that authorities say involved five people and dozens of antelope, deer, elk and game birds. He was the fourth person involved in the scheme to plead guilty to illegal hunting charges stemming back to 2004.

Chad Murphy, and investigator for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, says Fritz also was convicted in Madison and Powder River counties on five other 2007 misdemeanor poaching charges involving three deer, one bull elk and the illegal transfer of a hunting license.

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