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Alaska's former top game official enters guilty pleas

Casey Grove

A former top official in the Alaska Department of Fish and Game pleaded guilty Friday to two misdemeanor charges stemming from an illegal bear hunt in 2008, Alaska State Troopers say.

Troopers in January charged ex-Alaska wildlife division chief Corey Rossi, 52, with 12 criminal hunting violations for lying on hunting reports. Rossi resigned in wake of the charges.

Rossi, once a big game guide, pleaded guilty Friday in a deal with prosecutors to one count of falsifying a bear-sealing certificate and one count of unlawful acts by a guide.

Rossi's sentence, handed down Friday, suspends his big game guiding license and his hunting license for a year. He must pay a $5,000 fine but will spend no time in jail, with all 60 days of his sentence suspended.

Bill Satterberg, Rossi's lawyer, said Rossi paid a significant price because of the sentence and by losing his job and license to hunt.

"He's never denied his responsibility here," said Rossi's lawyer, Bill Satterberg. "He interviewed for over three hours by troopers and fully accepted responsibility. He went in today and accepted responsibility again in court."

Announcing the charges in January, troopers said Rossi helped two hunters from the Lower 48 kill three black bears and shot a bear for himself in the Susitna Valley in June 2008. The Department of Law's Office of Special Prosecutions filed charges saying Rossi lied on reports and claimed to have killed all four bears, while the out-of-state hunters failed to shoot any.

Troopers said wildlife investigators got a tip about Rossi's illegal hunt from another law enforcement agency outside Alaska in 2010. The charges against Rossi said a Utah man had admitted to killing two bears while hunting with Rossi.

Reach Casey Grove at casey.grove@adn.com or 257-4589.


By CASEY GROVE
Anchorage Daily News