By Tracy Jordan, Gary Blockus
Former Lehigh Valley football standout Mike Cerimele pleaded guilty to deer poaching charges for hunting illegally from a vehicle without proper tags and licenses.
Cerimele. 36, of Salisbury Township, is scheduled to be inducted into the Lehigh Valley Football Hall of Fame May 2 and recently announced the launch of the Pennsylvania Football Academy – an outgrowth of Cerimele's job as business director of Velocity Sport Performance in the Breinigsville section of Upper Macungie Township.
It was outside the Velocity Sport Performance facility at 155 Nestle Way where a state game commission officer found two antlered deer in the back of Cerimele's pickup truck Dec. 16 after receiving an anonymous tip, according to court records.
Cerimele, who played fullback for Central Catholic and Penn State in the 1990s followed by a brief stint in the NFL, was charged with eight hunting violations, including one misdemeanor and seven summary charges. All of the charges were withdrawn and downgraded to four non-traffic citations in exchange for Cerimele's guilty plea on April 1. He paid $2,141 in fines and court costs.
According to arrest documents, Cerimele initially lied to the game commission officer about the deer in the back of his truck. One of the deer had a tag belonging to another hunter, and one deer had no tag. The game commission officer alleged Cerimele claimed he forgot to tag his own deer and was taking his friend's deer to the butcher.
Cerimele was then cited for failing to properly tag big game.
The additional charges were filed after the game commission received another anonymous tip from a caller who reported seeing someone shoot a deer from a white pickup truck about 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14 in the area of Little Spur and Lower Macungie roads in Lower Macungie Township.
After further investigation, the game commission officer returned to Cerimele's place of business Dec. 17. Court records say Cerimele then admitted to shooting both deer illegally. The second deer was shot the same day in the afternoon off Old Mauch Chunk Road near Allentown.
The game commission confiscated the two deer as well as the antlers from a buck Cerimele admitted to taking with a bow during archery season without tag in October 2013, court records said.
Cerimele pleaded guilty to one count each of failing to attach a tag to big game, unlawful loaded firearms in a vehicle, using a vehicle to hunt and taking big game beyond the daily or season limits.
In Pennsylvania, hunting is not allowed from a motorized vehicle without a special permit and hunters are limited to one antlered deer or buck per hunting season regardless of the weapon used.
Cerimele shot the deer on the last day of deer season.