Police: French Lick man issued fake hunting leases, stole thousands from unsuspecting hunters

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Mug shot of Samuel Hughes

ORANGE COUNTY, Ind. (November 14, 2015) – A French Lick man is facing charges for allegedly drafting fake hunting leases and allowing his clients to trespass on multiple properties in Orange County, including the French Lick Resort property.

Samuel Hughes, 36, was arrested by Indiana Conservation Officers on Monday and incarcerated at the Orange County jail on theft charges.

Indiana Conservation Officers first began investigating Hughes after responding to a trespass complaint on French Lick Resort property.

Multiple hunters from out-of-state told officers they paid Hughes, owner of Nature’s Ridge Whitetails Outfitters, in exchange for a one-year exclusive hunting lease.

Officers’ investigation revealed that Hughes never had permission to lease the properties, and had drafted the written contracts with fees exceeding thousands of dollars.

Indiana Conservation Officers executed a search warrant on Hughes’ cell phone, and during a subsequent interview, Hughes confessed to his involvement in the operation.

He was arrested without incident on Monday.

The investigation is ongoing, and additional witnesses and victims are being sought. Anyone that believes they may have been a victim of this operation or with additional information pertinent to this investigation is encouraged to contact Indiana Conservation Officers’ Central Dispatch at 812-837-9536.

All charges are merely accusations and defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

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