A West Jordan couple who prosecutors say tried to cash in on the state's Coyote Bounty program by claiming they had killed a lot more coyotes than they actually had now face felony charges.
Jared Don Gasser, 37, and his wife, Stacey Lyn Demille, 31, were charged Monday in 3rd District Court with communications fraud, a second-degree felony.
Under the Division of Wildlife Resources's program, participants receive $50 "for each properly documented coyote that they kill in Utah." Participants are required to record the date and GPS location of each kill.
According to charging documents, the DWR became suspicious when Gasser and Demille's alleged kill total "exceeded expectations of what a person could normally harvest."
Of the 237 coyotes the couple claimed to have harvested, only 24 "appear to have been taken at the locations on the dates and times" reported, the charges state. Ninety-five others were harvested in Nevada, and 118 coyotes were claimed to have been killed at times Gasser and Demille were at home or somewhere other than what they recorded as their GPS locations, according to court documents.
Gasser received almost $12,000 for claiming nearly 200 bounties, the charges state. Demille received more than $1,600 from the state for 33 alleged bounties, according to court documents.
After reviewing time cards and cellphone tower data, investigators determined that Demille claimed to have harvested 11 coyotes at times she was working at Copper Canyon Elementary School, whose mascot is a coyote.
After she was confronted by authorities, Demille admitted "she did not know where the coyotes were harvested or who harvested them" while also claiming "she submitted for the bounties to get a tax advantage," the charges state.
Gasser told investigators that many of the coyotes the couple submitted to the state "were actually harvested by other people and that he offered to pay people for coyotes so that he could claim the bounty for himself. ... Gasser also stated that they submitted for the bounty for tax purposes," the charges state.