AUGUSTA – A former state lawmaker faces a court appearance Thursday to answer charges that he fraudulently obtained or possessed a hunting license for the last three years by failing to disclose he had a felony criminal record.

Jeffrey Pierce, a Republican from Dresden, was pardoned by former Republican Gov. Paul LePage for a felony drug trafficking conviction in 1982. But prior to the pardon, the Maine Warden Service discovered Pierce had been purchasing firearms hunting permits in 2016, 2017 and 2018 and tagging game on them, which is prohibited because of his record.

The pardon by LePage made Pierce’s criminal history confidential, but he is still subject to prosecution because a pardon does not expunge a criminal conviction.

Pierce declined to comment Tuesday on how he will plead at his appearance in Lincoln County District Court. But he said he was the target of a media “witch hunt.”

Pierce was issued three summonses in early February charging him with three counts of the Class E misdemeanor crime, each count of which is punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Public fish and game records obtained by the Portland Press Herald in October showed that Pierce, who was convicted of felony-level drug trafficking charges in 1983 for selling cocaine and marijuana to an undercover state trooper, had purchased state firearms hunting licenses for years.

Pierce also touted his A+ rating from the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine during his re-election campaign and noted he was an “avid hunter” on social media. SAM has since retracted its endorsement of Pierce and SAM’s executive director, David Trahan, said, “We do not support or condone any behavior like that.”

Jeffrey Pierce

Pierce lost his re-election bid in November to Alison Hepler, of Woolwich, the Democratic challenger in House District 53.

Pierce told a Press Herald reporter in October that he held an archery permit. State hunting license records showed he had never purchased an archery permit but had, over the years since becoming a felon, purchased firearms hunting permits.

The permit application explicitly asks if an applicant is a felon or is otherwise prohibited from possessing a firearm. But the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, which issues the licenses, usually through local town offices, does not check the criminal backgrounds on hunting license applications.

Pierce also told a reporter he had forgotten he was convicted of a felony, as it was so long ago, and he had since turned his life around to become a successful businessman and family man.

DIFW records obtained by the Press Herald showed Pierce had registered game he had killed using firearms.

He most recently registered a deer he shot with a .30-06 caliber hunting rifle, a common weapon for deer hunters, on Nov. 22, 2012, in the Sagadahoc County town of Phippsburg. Pierce also tagged a moose shot with a .30-06 rifle in Misery Gore Township, in Somerset County in October 2001. He also tagged deer killed in 2011 and 2001, and turkeys tagged in 2005.

State and federal laws prohibit anyone convicted of a felony-level crime from possessing firearms. State law also makes it a crime to fraudulently obtain a firearms hunting permit or to falsify a hunting permit application. In addition, state law prohibits felons from applying for firearms hunting permits, and the possession of a firearm by a felon is an additional felony-level crime under both state and federal law.

Cpl. John MacDonald, a spokesman for the Maine Warden Service, said a three-year statute of limitations on some fish and game and license application violations prevented wardens from charging Pierce with any additional crimes. MacDonald said the service did not provide Pierce with any leniency because he was a former elected official.

Pierce served two terms, or four years, in the Maine House of Representatives from 2015 through 2018 and was running for his third consecutive term in 2018.

Scott Thistle can be contacted at 791-6330 or at:

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