Madison (WQOW) – Three northwest Wisconsin men have pleaded guilty to illegally killing a mountain lion in Montana.
According to the Department of Justice, Robert Peters, 53, and Steven Reindahl, 55, both of Turtle Lake, pleaded guilty Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Madison to hindering a federal grand jury investigation by providing false testimony about a January 2017 Montana mountain lion hunt.
A third man, David Johnson, 31, of Barnes, pleaded guilty to shooting a mountain lion in 2017 without a Montana hunting license, and conspiring with Darren Johnson to transport the mountain lion from Montana to Wisconsin.
Charges are pending against Darren Johnson. He is not related to David Johnson.
On January 6, 2017, Darren and David Johnson, Bob Peters and Steve Reindahl were in Mosby, Montana hunting mountain lions with their dogs. That morning, the dogs treed a mountain lion. Only Darren Johnson and Steve Reindahl had valid licenses to hunt mountain lions.
Despite not having a valid license, David Johnson used Darren Johnson’s rifle to shoot and kill the mountain lion, and Darren Johnson took out his tag and tagged the lion. According to witness testimony, Darren Johnson told the group that everyone needed to stick to the story that he killed the mountain lion.
On January 10, 2017, all four men drove from Montana to Wisconsin, and Darren Johnson and Steve Reindahl transported the mountain lion hide. A few days later, Darren Johnson dropped off the hide at David Johnson’s home.
In late May 2018, Bob Peters and Steve Reindahl were served with grand jury subpoenas to testify before a federal grand jury on June 21, 2018, in Madison regarding the 2017 mountain lion hunt.
On Sunday June 17, 2018, Darren and David Johnson, Robert Peters, and Steve Reindahl met at Peters’ home in Turtle Lake to talk about the upcoming grand jury session. At the Sunday meeting, Darren Johnson allegedly told everyone to stick to the story that he killed the mountain lion and that the agents did not have any proof to say otherwise.
On June 21, 2018, Bob Peters and Steve Reindahl appeared before the grand jury. Later, Peters and Reindahl admitted that they lied to the grand jury and agreed to cooperate and tell the truth. They took back their prior testimony and explained that David Johnson killed the mountain lion and Darren Johnson tagged it and told
everyone he killed it and they all needed to stick to that story. Both men explained that they were told by Darren Johnson at the meeting in Turtle Lake not to tell the truth to the grand jury.
Peters and Reindahl face up to six months in prison, a $50,000 fine and five years of probation.
David Johnson faces one year in prison, a $100,000 fine and five years of probation.
Sentencing is set for February 26, 2019.