A French Lick man is facing charges after allegedly drafting fake hunting leases and allowing his clients to trespass on multiple properties in Orange County, including the French Lick Resort property. Conservation officers with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources arrested 36-year old Samuel Hughes of French Lick Monday. He was taken to and booked into the Orange County jail on a Level 6 Felony charge of Theft.
A news release by authorities says while responding to a trespass complaint on French Lick Resort property, Indiana Conservation Officers learned that multiple hunters from Michigan and other states had paid Hughes, the owner of Nature’s Ridge Whitetails Outfitters, in exchange for a one-year exclusive hunting lease.
An investigation by authorities revealed that Hughes never had permission to lease the properties, and had drafted the written contracts with unsuspecting out-of-state hunters for 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.
Officers say their investigation is continuing, and additional witnesses and victims are being sought. Anyone that believes they may have been a victim of this operation or with any additional information pertinent to this investigation is encouraged to contact Indiana Conservation Officers’ Central Dispatch at 812-837-9536.