Last July, University of South Carolina trustee and Orangeburg, S.C. lawyer Charles Williams pleaded guilty to killing seven federally protected red-tailed hawks, and was fined $75,000. Williams appealed, and was sentenced again in federal court yesterday, this time with a lesser fine.
The new fine for Williams is $30,000, passed by U.S. Judge Michelle Childs. Childs also dropped the 50 hours of community service Williams was originally sentenced with, saying that Williams does plenty of good in his community already. Williams also avoided what could have been a 3 1/2-year prison sentence.
Williams was caught by state and federal wildlife agents after being tipped off that Williams was trapping and killing hawks on his quail hunting plantation in Orangeburg County. In late 2013, they installed video surveillance equipment that reportedly caught him trapping and killing the hawks, and in some cases leaving them caged for days before killing them.
Although he was charged with killing seven hawks, prosecutors said they had evidence of Williams killing “far more than 30 hawks.” Williams told the judge he accepted responsibility for the killings, but also said he had no idea that killing the hawks was a federal crime.
Red-tailed hawks prey heavily on quail, and are seen as a nuisance predator of the birds by quail hunting enthusiasts.