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Men get electronic home monitoring in hunting case

Stephen Donald Battin Sr.1 / 2
Dennis Cook2 / 2

Two Twin Cities area men received electronic home monitoring Monday as punishment in a Hubbard County case that involved poaching deer and growing marijuana on leased hunting land.

Stephen Battin, 61, of Big Lake, and Donald Cook, 61, of Bloomington, entered into plea deals in April that substantially reduced the crimes they were facing and the time they could have spent behind bars.

Battin pled guilty in April to a Third Degree Controlled Substance crime, for which he will serve 75 days of EHM and five years of probation. He also pled guilty to a charge of hunter harassment, a misdemeanor, for which he received a $1,000 fine and 90 days in jail, stayed one year.

Although his attorney Larry Kimball asked Judge Paul Rasmussen not to impose a firearms ban on his client, the judge barred Battin from any weapons possession for the full duration of the probation.

Kimball said the arrests were under "unusual circumstances. He hopes to continue hunting at sometime," Kimball said of Battin, who declined to speak at his sentencing.

Battin is banned from having any controlled substances and must submit to random testing during his probation.

Cook pleaded guilty to the illegal taking of a deer, a gross misdemeanor. He received two years probation, during which he will lose his hunting privileges and a $135 fine.

"I'm sorry for the mistake I made," Cook told the judge. "I appreciate the opportunity" the plea deals gave the disabled vets.

Both men are considered 100 percent disabled veterans, suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome caused by their service in Vietnam. Those disabilities figured heavily into their penalties.

Battin and Cook were arrested last fall after DNR Conservation Officers conducted a flyover near Badoura State Forest just before deer season last fall on a tip that hunters in the vicinity were baiting deer.

Battin had leased hunting land there. He lost his lease after the arrests.

In the process of the investigation, DNR officers discovered 42 pounds of marijuana growing on the property.

Charges of Transporting Illegal Big Game and shooting a deer out of season were dismissed in Battin's plea agreement.

Cook pled to the Transporting charge. The drug charge against him was dismissed.

Hubbard County Attorney Don Dearstyne said Battin resolved the civil case against him after the criminal matters were taken care of.

The two ATVs on the property were confiscated as a result of the investigation. Battin paid $5,000 to get them back.

The drug task force involved in the pot bust will get 70 percent of the proceeds from one ATV. The DNR gets the entire $2,500 from the second ATV, Dearstyne said. His office recoups 20 percent of the cost of prosecuting the case from the sale of the first ATV.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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