ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) -- Broke and down on his luck, Billy Joe Hurley turned to the only way he knew how to make a living: poaching ginseng.
But after his latest in a long string of arrests, federal prosecutors had enough.
They told a U.S. magistrate Thursday that poaching by Hurley and others in the national forests in western North Carolina has dramatically reduced the numbers of wild ginseng -- a humble looking plant whose roots can fetch more than $900 a pound.
Prosecutor David Thorne said they needed to send a message: Illegal ginseng harvesting won't be tolerated.
Hurley, 46, of Bryson City, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 5
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