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Former wildlife official settles ethics case over side business for $75K

A former state wildlife official has settled with the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission over allegations that he used his role at the Pennsylvania Game Commission, where he oversaw natural gas-drilling land leases, to benefit his consulting firm, which helps private landowners negotiate land leases.

William Capouillez of Mifflin County, who was the director of the Game Commission’s Bureau of Wildlife Habitat Management from December 2006 through May 2015, will pay $75,000 to the commission under a settlement.

His attorney, Bob Davis Jr., said the commonwealth was originally seeking more than $8.3 million in restitution.

“This is thankfully over,” Davis said.

Capouillez started the consulting firm, Geological Assessment & Leasing LLC, in 1996, and he had informed the Pennsylvania Game Commission of the outside business, according to the commission’s report.

However, he did not disclose that he would be simultaneously representing private landowners in lease negotiations with the same companies that were negotiating with the state.

Recommendations were made by Gov. Tom Corbett and legislative leaders in March 2014 to rescind approval of his supplementary employment at the consulting firm. According to the ethics commission report, Capouillez continued to represent private clients through June 2014.

A spokesman for the Game Commission said the ethics settlement was being reviewed and that the agency had no comments at this time.

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