Court report sealed in case of Henderson hunting guide’s alleged probation violation

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HENDERSON — A status report filed Friday by federal prosecutors regarding the need for a hearing to determine whether a local hunting and fishing guide should have his probation supervision revoked has been ordered sealed by a judge.

In late December, Magistrate Judge Therese Wiley Dancks gave prosecutors until Friday to file a status report in the case of William Saiff III, who is serving 17 months’ probation imposed in U.S. District Court, Syracuse, after he pleaded guilty in May 2017 to two misdemeanor counts of violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act by guiding waterfowl hunters over baited ponds for profit.

According to a plea agreement filed with the court, Mr. Saiff admitted that on Oct. 27, 2015, he guided a hunting party over a baited pond near Mason Road in the town of Cape Vincent. He had previously placed corn as bait into an underwater trough he owned and installed at the pond. Mr. Saiff knew the pond had been baited, but guided a hunting party to the location, where the party shot and killed several types of federally protected ducks.

On Oct. 31, 2015, Mr. Saiff guided a party to a pond near Killenback Road in the town of Rodman, knowing that he had placed about 50 pounds of corn as bait at the pond. Again, hunters shot and killed several protected geese and ducks at the Rodman location before a law enforcement official intervened and seized the dead waterfowl.

As part of the terms of probation, Mr. Saiff was ordered not to engage in any hunting or guiding activities before Jan. 1, 2019. The terms further prohibited Mr. Saiff from accompanying hunters to any locations used for hunting or feeding ducks, geese or other waterfowl and he was ordered to stay away from any such locations. He was allowed to continue fishing and to guide fishing expeditions.

However, documents filed in December allege that Mr. Saiff again “placed waterfowl bait on or adjacent to an area knowing that hunting excursions that he arranged through his hunting guide business would be involved in shooting migratory waterfowl,” a violation of federal law.

Documents show that Mr. Saiff could face new charges for alleged baiting and he made a Dec. 19 court appearance to answer to a petition alleging that he has violated probation. At the appearance, prosecutors did not seek Mr. Saiff’s detention, but Judge Dancks modified conditions of his probation to include home confinement daily between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. and electronic monitoring at all other times.

A final probation revocation hearing was not scheduled until a determination can be made regarding possible additional criminal charges against Mr. Saiff, which prompted the request from Judge Dancks for a status report.

While the report is sealed, court documents show that Judge Dancks reviewed the report and has requested a further status report be filed by March 29 to determine “whether the immediate scheduling of a Final Revocation Hearing is requested” by prosecutors.

Mr. Saiff hosted a hunting and shooting sports program called “Cabin Country,” which aired on public television stations nationwide. He is also owner of Bill Saiff Outdoors and Seaway Waterfowl Professionals in the town of Henderson.

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