Frank Antenori, a former Republican whip for the Arizona State Senate, has been charged with illegal hunting on Fort Huachuca property.
The military base, home the U.S. Army Intelligence Center, encompasses about 76,000 acres of desert near Sierra Vista. Antenori was charged federally with the Arizona crime of taking wildlife from a closed area, court records state.
Between August 10 and 24, Antenori entered Fort Huachuca's land and took "wildlife from such an area by pursuing and hunting wildlife and by placing and/or using devices in a manner that may have resulted in the capturing of killing wildlife," records state. The charge is a Class Two misdemeanor in Arizona but becomes a federal charge under the Assimilative Crimes Act, which is applied when crimes that aren't federal offenses occur on federal property.
On Antenori's Twitter account, the Tucson military retiree and former congressional candidate calls himself a "Conservative Political Activist, Hunter and Outdoor Enthusiast."
Antenori didn't return a message from New Times seeking comment. However, Antenori told the Green Valley News today that he and the military base have been in a fight since March.
“It's always been open to hunting,” he told the paper, adding that he's hunted in the area for 11 years. "I didn't kill anything, and I didn't try to kill anything."
He also claimed the move was retaliation against him for some reason: "They literally closed it . . . because of me, to stop me from hunting there in archery deer season."
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That's not true, according to the fort's civilian spokesperson, Tanja Linton.
"We do not arbitrarily and capriciously engage in retaliatory acts against one individual," she says. "That's not what Fort Huachuca does."
However, Linton couldn't immediately explain why the area had been closed to hunting, or when, adding that she'll try to find out. Antenori had been warned previously about hunting on the closed land, she says, though she didn't know the specifics.
The charge carries a possible maximum of four months in jail and a $750 fine.