Spyder skiwear CEO sentenced in illegal Alaska hunt

Kyle Hopkins

A skiwear company executive who once ran one of the world's largest snowboard companies has admitted to taking part in an illegal hunt in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in 2008. He was sentenced Friday to pay $10,000.

Spyder Active Sports CEO Thomas M. McGann, 58, admitted to transporting a Dall sheep taken illegally in 2008, according to the plea agreement. He may not hunt anywhere in the U.S. for one year and must forfeit the sheep, under the agreement.

McGann is the former president of Vermont-based snowboard manufacturer Burton Snowboards.

He has served as CEO for Boulder, Colo.-based Spyder since 2009. The company is an official supplier for the U.S. Ski Team and has outfitted past and current members such as Julia Mancuso and Tommy Moe, according to its website. It bills itself as "the world's leading skiwear and mountain-based apparel brand."

The hunt that pointed investigators to McGann was outfitted by Master Guide Joe Norbert Hendricks, who was sentenced in August to pay $125,000 in fines for crimes related to ANWR hunts between 2007 and 2009.

McGann paid $11,000 to hunt Dall sheep in the wildlife refuge in August 2008, according to the plea agreement. He killed a sheep that had less than full curl horns, which is a violation of Alaska law unless the both the horns had been broken before the kill or the sheep was 8 years old or older, the agreement said.

The under-sized sheep's right horn had somehow been damaged in the wild before McGann shot it. Hendricks and an unnamed assistant guide determined the other horn should be broken too, to make it look like a legal kill, according to the agreement.

"When they found out it was too small to be legal, then the alteration of it, and the continued possession of it at that time became unlawful," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Cooper, who prosecuted the Fairbanks case.

Hendricks hammered the horn with a rock, then told McGann to get rid of any pictures from the kill site, the agreement said.

At least two photos survived.

Interviewed by a U.S. Fish and Wildlife agent in January 2010, after he had began working for the popular ski wear company, McGann told the investigator he believed the horns had not been altered, the agreement said.

McGann provided pictures that showed the sheep's left horn had not been broken until sometime after the kill.

"He could have held out and not produced them when asked, but he didn't do that. So that's to his credit," Cooper said.

Later in the day of the January 2010 interview, McGann said he had just talked to an assistant guide who was on the trip and learned the horn had in fact been altered.

McGann was interviewed again in June, 2010, the plea agreement said. This time, he admitted that he learned about the illegal alteration of the horn years before, at the hunting camp in ANWR.

Prosecutors had not charged McGann with a crime -- the conviction is a misdemeanor -- prior to reaching the plea agreement signed Jan. 3, Cooper said.

McGann participated in the sentencing by phone, calling from Denver with his lawyer, the prosecutor said.

McGann oversaw the growth of Burton Snowboards in the 1990s before leaving the post in 2002, according to trade industry news accounts at the time. He worked as president and chief executive of Motorsport Aftermarket Group, an aftermarket motorcycle parts company, until joining Spyder three years ago.

His high-profile job surfaced during sentencing discussions when McGann was granted special probation conditions that will allow him to travel without first receiving permission from a judge, Cooper said.

"He can travel even internationally, but not without prior probation officer approval," he said.

Reached at a number listed for his home in Longmont, Colo., McGann declined to comment.

"No comment. Thanks for calling," he said before hanging up.

A spokesman for Spyder Active Sports did not return an email or phone message Friday afternoon.

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