Troy Gentry of the duo Montgomery Gentry has pleaded innocent to federal charges stemming from the killing of a tame black bear in Minnesota in 2004. Gentry, 39, of Franklin, Tenn., and Lee Marvin Greenly, 46, of Sandstone, Minn., appeared Tuesday (Aug. 15) in U.S. District Court in Duluth, Minn., after a federal grand jury in Minneapolis returned an indictment alleging the two men had claimed the trophy-caliber bear named Cubby was killed in the wild.
The indictment states that Greenly, owner of the Minnesota Wildlife Connection in Sandstone, sold the bear to Gentry for approximately $4,650. The bear was one of several tame animals housed by Greenly for use in his wildlife photography business. Following the sale, Gentry allegedly killed the bear with a bow and arrow while the animal was enclosed in a pen on Greenly's property. The bear's death was videotaped, and federal prosecutors allege that the tape was later edited to make it appear as though Gentry killed the animal in a normal hunting situation.
Greenly and Gentry allegedly tagged the bear with a Minnesota hunting license and registered the animal with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources as if it had been killed in the wild. The animal's hide was subsequently shipped to a taxidermist in Kentucky for mounting.
The case, which stemmed from an investigation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is being prosecuted under the Lacey Act, a federal law that prohibits trade in wildlife, fish and plants that have been illegally taken, possessed, transported or sold.
Gentry's manager, Johnny Dorris, responded to the charges in a written statement.
"Our artist Troy Gentry, half of the country music duo Montgomery Gentry, appeared in a Duluth, Minn., court ... to plead not guilty to charges he hunted a black bear without the proper permit approximately two years ago," Dorris said. "He relied on the knowledge and expertise of a local guide to obtain the proper permit. Troy felt what he did was legal and in full compliance of the law and was surprised to hear of the indictment. Troy is an avid outdoorsman and has great respect for the laws that protect our natural resources. He expects to be exonerated when all of the facts are brought to light."
If convicted, Gentry and Greenly face a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison and a $20,000 fine for falsely labeling the bear as if it had been killed in the wild. Greenly also faces five years in prison and a $20,000 fine on each of the two other charges that he unlawfully established and maintained multiple bear-baiting stations and hunting stands where two clients allegedly shot and killed two black bears in 2005. Gentry was not involved in the 2005 incident.
Both Gentry and Greenly are free on a personal recognizance bond pending their next court appearance. The indictment, returned on July 25, was sealed pending Gentry and Greenly's court appearance.