LINCOLN, Neb. (CN) - A man who booked an African safari through Cabela's Outdoor Adventures claims the catalog giant conspired with a tour guide to violate a slew of laws in Africa and the United States, including laws against trafficking in wild animals, human rights abuses and use of illegal export-import documents. Scott Anglin filed a RICO complaint against Cabela's and Barry Burchell in Federal Court.
Anglin, a Texas hotel developer, claims the "pattern of racketeering activity" began as early as 2002 and continues to this day. He says he discovered the "extensive activities which violated numerous laws" after booking a Cabela's guided tour in 2002, led by Burchell, a resident of South Africa.
Anglin's 52-page complaint, with 12 pages of attachments, describes Burchell as Cabela's go-to safari guide for South Africa and Namibia. He says Cabela's has had a "closely tied and interdependent" relationship with Burchell since at least 2002, serving at least 493 customers during those 8 years.
He claims their "pattern of proscribed RICO predicate acts include[es] several aimed at stifling plaintiff from revealing to authorities or others the defendants' continuing, extensive activities which violated numerous laws in the course of operating their 'association in fact' 'enterprise.'"
During his 2002 trip, Anglin says, illegal taxes were added to his bill; he was taken to hunt on "non-owned property without written permission;" animals, including endangered animals, were hunted illegally; and his hunting trophies, prepared by Burchell's taxidermy service, were shipped illegally, in violation of international wildlife laws established to prevent illegal trafficking in wildlife, including the Lacey Act.
Anglin claims he has been trying to publicize Cabela's and Burchell's legal violations since 2004. He says he made reports to government authorities; reported them to his nephew, a Florida police officer; and contacted Cabela's in-house attorney, Reed Gilmore.
Anglin says Gilmore did not cooperate with him or his attorney, ignored requests for information, and then produced a "misleading and factually inaccurate document," claiming that Cabela's had cut its business ties with Burchell.
Anglin says that claim is false, and was made in an attempt to substantiate bogus defamation allegations Burchell made against Anglin in the High Court of South Africa.
Anglin claims that Burchell initiated his defamation lawsuit in 2005 in retaliation for Anglin's whistleblowing. In that South African lawsuit, which has not yet concluded, Burchell claims that Anglin caused him to lose customers for 2 years; but Anglin retorts that the real losses were his time and hundreds of thousands of his dollars to "vigorously" defend against Burchell's "baseless" lawsuit.
Anglin says he uncovered hundreds of violation of local and international law. He claims that Cabela's and Burchell's hunters were not licensed properly; that killed animals were described as gifts instead of trophies so they could be illegally exported and imported; and he claims that Burchell treated his own employees brutally, forcing them to live in "oppressive everyday work and living conditions;" and he says that despite Cabela's claim that it "monitored the quality and suitability" of Burchell's services in their joint enterprise, Cabela's failed "to stop any of the hundreds of illegal acts and omissions in the enterprise's operation."
Anglin claims that when a Cabela's director was given a DVD containing several eyewitness reports of Burchell's inhumane treatment of his employees, the director said that 90 minutes was too long for him to watch and no investigation ever took place.
Instead, Anglin says, Cabela's in-house attorney Gilmore threatened that if he went to the media, he could expect his "personal background be subject to public scrutiny as well."
Anglin says Cabela's and Burchell's RICO violations were made "to advance their joint goal of intimidating, discrediting, punishing and silencing" him.
He demands $1.2 million in damages, trebled, for RICO violations and intentional infliction of emotional distress. He is represented by Alan Peterson of Lincoln.
Cabela's Outdoor is a division of Cabela's Inc., a catalog company specializing in hunting and fishing. Cabela's Inc. reported revenue of $643 million in the 3rd Quarter of 2010.
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