Game Commission Sting Operation Results in Charges for Heath’s Market Owners

| October 18, 2023

OIL CITY, Pa. (EYT) — The owners of Heath’s Market are each facing 40 counts of deceptive business practices and buying and selling game/wildlife following an undercover operation of the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

(Photo above: Wise and Coleman standing in front of Heath’s Market, now closed, located at 220 Bishop Avenue, Oil City.)

Court documents indicate that on Monday October 16, 2023, the Pennsylvania Game Commission filed criminal charges against 49-year-old Rebecca S. Colvin and her sister, 43-year-old Heidi Kathleen Wise, both of Oil City, in Magisterial District Judge Andrew F. Fish’s office.

According to the criminal complaint filed on October 16, 2023, the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) began a covert investigation of Heath’s Market located at 220 Bishop Avenue in Oil City beginning on December 7, 2021, for the unlawful commercialization of wildlife.

Over the course of the investigation, an undercover investigator made many purchases of meat products from the business that subsequently tested positive for whitetail deer, according to the complaint.

Whitetail deer DNA was found in ham loaf, smoked ham loaf, meat sticks, hot sticks, honey sticks, holiday kielbasa, and various bolognas, the complaint states.

Wise and Coleman inside Heath’s Market in 2019.

According to the complaint, many of the products were mixed, ground, and blended with other meats and spices to form a final sale product. None of the products purchased were labeled in a manner as to inform the buyer that they were purchasing food containing whitetail deer.

In total, the undercover officer went to the business on 25 separate occasions and purchased a total of 47 individual products. Twenty of the products purchased tested positive for whitetail deer, according to the complaint.

Under Title 34 of the Statutes of Pennsylvania, it is unlawful for a person to buy, sell, barter, or aid, abet, assist, or conspire to buy, sell, or barter any game or parts of a game. “Parts” are defined as any portion of tissue, flesh, blood, bone, hide, skin, hair, or feather of such substance size, volume, or weight which may be determined by a qualified personal as belonging to the species alleged, even though diluted or contained in any manufactured product.

The Commonwealth stated in its criminal complaint that it would respect the decision of the court regarding fine structures for each of the violations.

The Commonwealth also requested a restitution amount totaling $11,545.09; $11,250 of which were costs of DNA services from East Stroudsburg University’s Wildlife Genetics Institute. The remainder was money spent purchasing the products from Heath’s Market.

Colvin and Wise are facing the following charges:

  • Deceptive Business Practices – Adulterated Goods, Misdemeanor 2 (20 counts)
  • Buying And Selling Game/WildLife, Summary1 (20 counts)

A preliminary hearing is set for November 29th at 10:30 a.m. with Judge Fish presiding.

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