FLORIDA AND SOUTH CAROLINA RESIDENTS CHARGED WITH IMPORTATION OF ENDANGERED AND THREATENED SPECIES FROM THE BAHAMAS
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Otha Easley, Acting Special Agent in Charge, NOAA Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement, Southeast Division (NOAA), Major Jeff Hubert, Regional Commander, South A Region, Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Randy Donnelson, Director of Air Operations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Miami Field Office, and, Rear Admiral William D. Baumgartner, Commander, 7th Coast Guard District, announced today that Glenn Bridges, 49, of Fort Pierce, Gregory Johnson, 52, of Fort Pierce, and Sharon Vollmer, 23, of Mount Pleasant, S.C., surrendered on warrants issued as a result of their Indictment by a federal Grand Jury for conspiracy to possess and import wildlife, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371; importation into the United States of wildlife possessed and transported in violation of the laws of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, in violation of the Lacey Act, Title 16, United States Code, Sections 3372(a)(2)(A) and 3373(d)(1)(A); and, importation of endangered and threatened wildlife, in violation of the Endangered Species Act, Title 16, United States Code, Sections 1538(a)(1)(A) and 1540(b)(1). Bridges was further charged with making a false statement to the U.S. Coast Guard, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001.
According to the Indictment, on or about November 17, 2011, in St. Lucie County, Bridges, Johnson, and Vollmer attempted to import spiny lobster (Panulirus argus), Hawksbill sea turtle (Trachemys imbricate) shells, Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) shells, a Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) shell, and queen conch (Strombus gigus), all in violation of the possession limits for each of the species set forth in the laws and regulations of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, specifically, the Fisheries Resources (Jurisdiction & Conservation) Regulations, Part X, Sections 47(1)(a), (b) and 48(1)(f).
The case has been assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Donald L. Graham. If convicted on the charges in Counts one through six and Count ten of the Indictment, Bridges, Johnson, and Vollmer face a possible term of imprisonment of up to five years, a fine of up to $250,000, and a term of supervised release of up to three years. If convicted in Counts seven through nine of the Indictment, Bridges, Johnson, and Vollmer face a possible term of imprisonment of up to one year, a fine of $100,000, and a term of supervised release of up to one year. In addition, upon conviction of the charges in Counts two through nine, the Indictment seeks the forfeiture of the illegal catch. Bridges, Johnson, and Vollmer made their first court appearance on the charges at 9:30 a.m., today, at the Federal Courthouse, 101 South U.S. Highway 1, Ft. Pierce, Florida. A trial date has not yet been set in this matter.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of NOAA Office of Law Enforcement, the U.S. Coast Guard, CBP’s Office of Air and Marine, and FWC. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Norman O. Hemming, III, of the Economic and Environmental Crimes Section.
An indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.