The two men accused last fall of setting up an extensive hunting and surveillance equipment operation on the private Robins Island have admitted to trespassing and agreed to each pay a $250 fine, court records show.
Scott Russell of Bethel, Conn. and Curt Jorgensen of Beacon, N.Y. each pleaded guilty to an environmental conservation law charge of trespassing at an appearance June 29 before Southold Town Justice Eileen Powers, according to a copy of the disposition obtained by The Suffolk Times. The two men had been arrested by DEC police on Oct. 20, 2021 for trespassing and not possessing a hunting license or tags.
Following their arrests, caretakers on Robins Island discovered hunting and surveillance equipment they believed the two men had set up at the nature preserve owned by billionaire Louis Bacon.
In an interview last October, Peter Talty, vice president of Belvedere Property Management LLC, called the discovered equipment “disturbing.” He speculated it could be linked to a commercial hunting operation since Robins Island is home to several prize deer, including a number of albinos.
Mr. Russell, who is of no relation to the Southold Town Supervisor of the same name, and Mr. Jorgensen were equipped with camouflage gear and powerful hunting bows near a bedding area for deer and buildings on site when they were found trespassing on the private island, Mr. Talty said at the time.
Staff was alerted to something unusual when an employee stumbled across a game camera capable of communicating with a cell phone secured to a tree, he added.
The employee led two other staff members into the woods to investigate further. He was carrying a shotgun, which Mr. Talty said he fired into the air to alert the other staff after encountering an individual coming down from a tree stand and another lying prone on the ground, both with compound bows in hand.
The staff proceeded to notify Town of Southold police and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Mr. Talty said at the time.
In addition to extensive hunting equipment, Robins Island uncovered more than a half-dozen numbered cameras on the property along with a tent, five tree stands, provisions, camouflage netting, two 45-pound weights with chains and two bow and quiver sets with missing arrows, among other things.
The 434-acre island off New Suffolk is within the jurisdiction of the Southold Town Police Department. Signs are posted warning outsiders that it’s off-limits.
Mr. Bacon purchased Robins Island in bankruptcy court in 1993 for $11 million. It was preserved in 1997.