Butcher indicted in Wilton deer-processing investigation
NASHUA – A Hillsborough County grand jury has handed up criminal indictments in the case of Wilton wild game butcher Phillip Pellerin, who is accused of bilking two dozen would-be customers by failing to process their deer meat before it spoiled, according to the indictments.
Pellerin, 30, of 8A Russell St., was indicted on one count each of theft by unauthorized taking and theft by deception, both felonies.
According to his case file, Pellerin was initially also charged with one count of witness tampering, a felony, but no indictment was handed up on that charge.
The two theft charges accuse Pellerin of accepting 27 deer and “various cash deposits” from 24 separate hunters from Nov. 6 to Feb. 5, then allegedly “either failing to butcher the deer, or butchering them but returning spoiled meat to the customers.”
An indictment is not an indication, or proof of, guilt, but represents the Grand Jury’s determination that enough evidence exists for prosecutors to move the case forward in Superior Court.
Police reports detail the investigation that began in November, when town Health Officer Steven Desrosiers started receiving “multiple phone complaints regarding unsanitary conditions due to a deer butchering operation,” according to the report filed by Wilton police Officer Olivia Siekman.
Pellerin’s business, called Phillip’s Wild Game Butcher Shop, was at 44 Burns Hill Road until Desrosiers shut it down by issuing a cease and desist order.
Pellerin had taken control of the shop from longtime game processor Darrell Fisk, who retired before the start of the 2018 deer hunting season.
Siekman’s report, meanwhile, traces a series of interactions police and Desrosiers had with irritated would-be customers, along with those Siekman and Desrosiers had with Pellerin during several weeks.
Many disgruntled customers told police that after bringing their deer to Pellerin for processing, they never heard from him, and their numerous attempts to reach him were unsuccessful.
Some paid a deposit, usually $50, the reports state. When Pellerin allegedly publicized that he had learned the processing and butchering trade from Fisk, Fisk’s wife promptly made it known that Pellerin worked for Fisk “for a very short time” as a meat grinder.
Fisk’s wife also stated that Pellerin “was not trained by (Darrell Fisk) and they would not recommend him for any job,” the report states.
In at least one case, Pellerin allegedly told a customer he would return his $50 deposit “to make it right,” but then “never followed through.”
During one of Siekman’s visits, she stated in her report, Pellerin allegedly told her that “by doing this, you are making matters worse,” apparently referring to the police investigation.
She responded by telling Pellerin that about “30 people have come forward” to file reports against him, and “that he has created the situation he is in.”
As the investigation proceeded, the reports state, Pellerin eventually complied with the cease and desist order, shutting down the Burns Hill Road operation and moving it to 8A Russell St., his current address.
A former employee, who worked for Pellerin for all of two weeks, was dismayed when, during an interview with police, they showed him current photos of the Burns Hill Road operation, the reports state.
The employee told police he “worked really hard to make things run efficiently at the Burns Hill Road address,” and when they showed him photos what it looks like now “he became very angry,” the report states.
Confronted in mid-December “regarding this matter,” Siekman wrote, Pellerin “laughed, made rude comments, then blamed the victims for not contacting him.”
The alleged victims “expressed deep sadness and anger … about how” Pellerin allegedly “showed a complete disrespect for the deer and the value that hunters hold,” Siekman stated. She said some alleged victims told her they “depend on harvesting a deer to feed their families or donate to the homeless.”
Hunters, the alleged victims told Siekman, “do everything in their power to use as much of the deer as they can, so it doesn’t go to waste.
“A deer is never supposed to be treated the way (Pellerin allegedly) treated their deer,” Siekman wrote.
While some alleged victims believed Pellerin “had good intentions” when he started out, he may have “gotten ahead of himself” and probably should have stopped taking deer … .”
Others were skeptical, however, suggesting that with the well-known longtime butcher Fisk retired, “this would be an easy way for (Pellerin) to get cash.” Some went as far as to wonder aloud whether Pellerin ever “had real intentions of providing a service,” according to the report.
In all, the police investigation showed, Pellerin received $1,995 from customers’ deposits and payments, Siekman wrote.
But that number pales in comparison to state Fish and Game Department legislation, which, Siekman stated, “stipulates that the value of a single deer is $250” – bringing to $6,750 the total combined loss of the 27 deer that the 24 alleged victims brought to Pellerin.
According to his case file, Pellerin, who is free on personal recognizance bail, is scheduled for arraignment and a dispositional conference on June 5 in Hillsborough County Superior Court-South.