Pocatello restaurant owner to plead guilty to unlawful sale of game animals
Published at | Updated at
DILLON, Montana — A Pocatello man has reached a plea agreement with the Beaverhead County Attorney’s Office regarding charges of the illegal transportation and sale of game animals.
Yan “Bo” Fong, the former owner of the now-closed Bamboo Garden restaurant in Pocatello, signed a plea agreement on Nov. 16, according to court documents obtained by EastIdahoNews.com.
Per the agreement, Fong will plead guilty to two felony charges — one for the unlawful sale of game animals and the other for the possession and transportation of game animals. He was originally charged with three counts of each felony.
Fong was arrested in August 2020 after he allegedly met with an undercover state conservation officer three times between 2017 and 2018. Before their meeting, Fong was informed that the undercover officer had illegally procured animal carcasses for sale, documents show.
Before the arrest, in 2013, public health officials were notified of a coyote carcass found in the freezer at the Bamboo Garden restaurant. At the time of the discovery, Fong informed officials that he was holding the coyote for a hunter. He disposed of the dead animal after complaints.
Documents obtained by EastIdahoNews.com show that on or around Nov. 29, 2017, Fong bought three black bear gall bladders, 12 black bear paws, one complete black bear with entrails and one complete black bear with entrails removed. He also allegedly bought one complete mountain lion, two bobcats, one cow elk and two mule deer at the same time.
One year later, he made a similar purchase. According to the court documents, Fong’s second purchase included parts from five separate black bears among other animals.
Original charging documents allege that Fong was caught on an audio recording saying that he offered bear and mountain lion meat for free to “the tour guide and bus people.”
The plea agreement states that Fong will plead guilty to both felony charges at a change-of-plea hearing, which has not yet been scheduled. He will then be sentenced in accordance with the agreement.
For the illegal sale of game animals, Fong will be sentenced to five years in prison and $7,500 in fines. The five-year sentence for the charge of transporting the game animals will be suspended, leaving Fong with a total of five to 10 years in prison. He will also pay a fine of $7,500 for the second felony charge.
In addition, Fong will forfeit all hunting, fishing and trapping privileges for six years following his release from prison.
After his change-of-plea hearing, Fong will be scheduled to appear in court for sentencing, at which time he will be allowed to argue the sentencing.
Fong also faces criminal charges in Bannock County. All told, 75 misdemeanor charges have been filed against Fong by the Bannock County Prosecutor’s Office, including 10 counts of purchasing skins or pelts without a fur buyer’s license and 65 counts of transporting illegally taken wildlife.
Because the investigation is ongoing, Idaho Fish and Game Pocatello Regional Communications Manager Jennifer Jackson would not comment on the specifics of Idaho’s case against Fong.
He is scheduled for a Dec. 15 status conference for these charges.