A Columbia County man faces up to seven years in prison after pleading guilty Friday to accidentally shooting a state wildlife officer while poaching deer in December.
Alan Blanchard, 55, of Gallatin pleaded guilty in Columbia County Court to felony second-degree assault for shooting Environmental Conservation Officer James Davey the night of Nov. 29 in a cornfield near Silvernails Road in Gallatin.
Blanchard will be sentenced April 28 by County Judge Jonathan Nichols. The conviction also carries a potential $5,000 fine.
Davey and DEC Lt. Liza Bobseine were investigating reports of illegal deer poaching when Davey was struck in the pelvis by a shot fired by Blanchard.
A 12-year DEC veteran, the 39-year-old Davey is undergoing rehabilitation for his injuries, which required surgery at Mid-Hudson Hospital and an stay in the hospital's Intensive Care Unit.
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said Blanchard's conviction should be "an example ... that illegal hunting after dusk and careless conduct with firearms will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law." Seggos also credited Bobseine with saving Davey's life by compressing his wound after the shooting.
Alan Blanchard, and his hunting partner, James Brown of Pine Plains, stayed on the scene and assisted with rescue efforts before Blanchard was arrested.
"We hope that this conviction will deter other irresponsible hunters — an extremely small minority — from similar criminal conduct," Columbia County District Attorney Paul Czajka said. "I want to thank New York State Police Senior Investigator Bill Mulrein and give the highest praise to (Davey and Bobseine). These brave public servants work night and day to enforce the law and protect us all."
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