Florida Marine Life Dealer and Corporation Sentenced for Illegal Wildlife Trafficking
Wilfredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Edward Grace, Deputy Assistant Director U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement, announce that Jerrold C. Tieder, 47, of Dania, Florida and Tropical Fish Transhippers, Inc. (TFT), a Florida corporation based in Dania Beach, were convicted and sentenced today in Key West for transporting and selling wildlife in interstate commerce, specifically nurse sharks, with a fair market value in excess of $350.00, knowing the marine life was taken, possessed, transported, sold, and intended to be sold in violation of the laws and regulations of the State of Florida, contrary to the federal Lacey Act, Title 16, United States Code, Sections 3372(a)(2)(A), (a)(4), 3373(d)(1)(B), and Title 18, United States Code, Section 2.
The defendants entered their guilty pleas to the single charge before U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez, who after accepting the guilty pleas imposed sentence on both defendants. Tieder was sentenced to a term of probation of two years, a criminal fine of $1,000, and ordered to make a payment of $4,000 as a special condition of his probation to the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), a Congressionally-chartered organization authorized by law to receive payments arising as a result of a criminal conviction. NFWF will distribute the funds to the Mote Marine Laboratory, Summerland Key Branch, to promote research, management, education, conservation, and restoration of marine life and corals throughout the waters of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and the Florida Keys. TFT was placed on probation for a period of three years and ordered to pay a criminal fine of $1,000, with an additional payment to the NFWF of $1,500.
According to the indictment, joint factual statements submitted to the Court, and statements in court, Tieder was President of TFT, a corporation with its principal place of business in Dania, Florida. Tieder, through TFT, was engaged in the day to day business of purchasing, importing, distributing, and selling in interstate and foreign commerce various species of marine life, including live corals, live fish, and live rock.
In October 2012, the defendants purchased four juvenile nurse sharks (Ginglymosthoma cirratum) from a supplier located in Monroe County, Florida. The supplier did not hold the required license or permit from the State of Florida which would permit the supplier to harvest or sell sharks. In early November 2012, an employee of TFT confirmed the availability and willingness of TFT to sell eight juvenile nurse sharks to a customer outside the State of Florida. Thereafter, on November 6, 2012, a supplier in Monroe County transported four nurse sharks from Marathon Key to TFT at Dania. Unknown to the supplier or TFT, the four sharks had been outfitted with Passive Integrated Tags (PIT), each responding to an electronic reader with a unique 15 digit serial number.
On November 7, 2012, TFT delivered eight nurse sharks to Fort Lauderdale International Airport, for shipment in interstate commerce to a customer of TFT. Four of the sharks were scanned and found to be carrying the PIT Tags previously placed by Special Agents of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. TFT subsequently received payment for the eight sharks in the amount of $440.00.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement and NOAA Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Watts-FitzGerald.
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.