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Charged with illegal hunting, drug possession

December 19, 2018

La PORTE – A local funeral home director has found himself in more legal trouble after being caught hunting on federal property and possessing marijuana last month in Kingsbury, according to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

Casmir Pulaski, owner of Lakeview Funeral Home & Crematory, is scheduled to appear Wednesday for his initial hearing in La Porte Superior Court 3.

He was charged with four misdemeanors after the Nov. 1 incident in which IDNR was called to investigate two men apparently hunting deer on the Army Reserve property adjacent to Pulaski’s property in Kingsbury.

Pulaski told officers he was not hunting on Army property, but was in a tree stand on his property, the incident report said. After a K9 officer tracked their scents and determined their hunting locations – and found the stand was on Army property – Pulaski and Shad Briles were charged with hunting on private land without consent, a class C misdemeanor.

The officer said Pulaski smelled of marijuana, and a search of his truck yielded a partially smoked marijuana cigarette, a wooden device for storing marijuana, a metallic smoking device, two packages of rolling papers, a multicolored pill with no markings and a pink pill, later identified as hydrocodone.

According to the report, Pulaski said he was smoking marijuana in the truck the day prior, then said then marijuana wasn’t his. He later said it was his workers who were smoking in the truck.

Pulaski was charged with possession of a controlled substance (hydrocodone), possession of marijuana and possession of paraphernalia – misdemeanor classes A, B and C, respectively.

The officer who charged the men is the same one who cited them after a similar incident on the same property in 2014.

The 2014 cases were dismissed upon successful completion of pretrial diversions by both Pulaski and Briles in 2016.

“In light of Pulaski’s and Briles’ previous violations, I am asking for the full prosecution under the law with maximum fines collected,” Indiana Conservation Officer Ryan Vanderlugt writes in his report.

“I am also asking for Pulaski’s and Briles’ hunting and fishing privileges to be suspended to the maximum extent possible... Due to their lack of knowledge of hunting laws I also request that Briles and Pulaski be ordered to attend a Hunter Education Class in order to get their hunting privileges reinstated at the conclusion of the suspension.”

Vanderlugt also cited Pulaski’s 1999 arrest for intimidation, false informing and hunting without consent. In that case, Pulaski pleaded guilty to an amended charge of trespassing, and the remaining counts were dismissed.

“My client, Casmir Pulaski, is a family man, an upstanding member of the community, and a local business owner with strong ties to La Porte and La Porte County, as well as surrounding areas,” Pulaski’s defense attorney, Andrew Voeltz, said Tuesday.

“We intend to vigorously defend against these charges brought against my client, which are flimsy at best. My client is innocent until proven guilty. The state bears the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a very high burden of proof. We look forward to our day in court.”

Pulaski was in the news earlier this year for reaching a settlement with the State Board of Funeral & Cemetery Service after withholding a decedent’s cremains from over a payment dispute with the man’s family.

The administrative complaint also took issue with the fact that Pulaski had failed to disclose the trespassing conviction and a 2004 conviction for public intoxication to the board within the required 90 days. He also had answered “No” on license renewal applications in 2008, 2010 and 2012, when asked if he’d been convicted of any violations of state or federal law, according to the board.

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