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Antlers cost vendor dearly

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By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

HILLSVILLE — A Memorial Day flea market vendor locked proverbial horns with Virginia authorities over the sale of animal parts and ended up paying the price in court, according to Carroll's commonwealth's attorney.

A Department of Game and Inland Fisheries special agent, Jay Dowdy, launched an investigation of a Galliopis, Ohio, man named Barry L. Williams after receiving a tip the vendor had sold antlers in Hillsville in the fall of 2008, Commonwealth's Attorney Greg Goad reports.

Dowdy obtained a cell phone number and called the suspect.

As a result, the agent learned that the vendor would be returning to Hillsville for the 2009 Memorial Day Weekend flea market.

While on the phone, Dowdy asked the dealer if selling antlers isn't against the law in Virginia, Goad said. And the suspect replied that it was an unenforced law.

So when the special agent found a stand with a box of eight sets of deer antlers May 23 at the flea market, he asked if the vendors' name was Barry.

The vendor eventually sold all eight sets of antlers to the special agent, Goad said. The antlers were marked $65 each, but the vendor sold them all for $250 — and he threw in half of a bear's jaw for free.

Dowdy, as part of the investigation, had written down the serial numbers of the bills he paid the vendor with, Goad said. After they had made the transaction, the special agent radioed two uniformed game officers, V.R. Hurst and R.J. Cox, about it.

"Once the uniform guys come up to him, [Williams] made statements like, 'I'm the person you're looking for... I sold the antlers... I know why you're here and I know I shouldn't have sold them," Goad recalled.

Williams was charged with selling wild game parts — a felony because the amount of items involved totaled more than $200 — by indictment issued last September.

Williams was found guilty in Carroll County Circuit Court in January, according to court records. The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries officers testified for the commonwealth.

The court gave Williams a suspended 12 months in jail and ordered him to pay $385 in court costs.