Preston Mother & Son Accused of Stealing Gopher Feet

Posted at: 06/18/2013 11:06 PM
Updated at: 06/18/2013 11:38 PM
By: Steph Crock

(ABC 6 News) -- A mother and her son have been accused of going into a garage in rural Harmony, and stealing thousands of dollars’ worth of gopher feet. Seems odd, right?

Well it isn't being taken lightly in Fillmore County Court. Both have been with charged 4 counts each, 2 of which are felonies.

For the past 20 years Michael Junge has been trapping gophers. "I worked for a farmer and he couldn't hardly stand cutting his hay because there were so many gophers, so I decided to start trapping them," said Junge.

Now he catches about 15 of the pests a day and stores their feet in his "man cave," garage. However, a few months back when he went out there…"They were all gone," he said.

It seems odd to have a freezer full of gopher feet, but they're actually worth a pretty penny. Townships generally pay a bounty of about 3 bucks for a pair of feet. "I figured 800, that's about $2,400," he said. That's how many he first guessed were taken, but realized there could have been many more.

"The officer checked around with the various townships and was trying to determine if anybody had turned in a large about of gopher feet and it was discovered that Harmony Township had received many, many gopher feet," said Fillmore County Attorney Brett Corson.

Tina Garrison and her son Junior Dillon from Preston are accused of taking and selling the feet there for money. They turned in, "roughly, about 1,400 pairs of gopher feet, that values at somewhere about $4,600 -  $4,700," said Corson.

"...because of the value, I just wanted to get some money back," said Junge. However, if found guilty, the two may have more consequences than paying up "A potential of 5 years of jail and/or $10,000 fine," said Corson.

As for Junge, well, he may have to make some slight adjustments to his trapping routine. "I’m afraid I'm going to have to, put a lock on the freezer, maybe,"  shrugged Junge.

Junior Dillon actually knew Junge. Dillon had dated his girlfriend's daughter and had been to the house before. In the criminal complaint, however, Dillon denies any involvement. Tina Garrison, his mother, pled not guilty to the crime. We could not reach either of the two for comment Tuesday.