Owner of I&C Fish Ranch Pleads Guilty in “Operation Long Neck” Involving Trafficking in Live Turtles
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Andrew Aloise, Resident Agent in Charge, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and Major Curtis Brown, Statewide Investigations, Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), announced today that James Cheung, 57, of Moore Haven, Glades County, Florida, entered a plea of guilty to Count 3 of an Indictment by a federal grand jury for trafficking of live turtles in interstate commerce, in violation of Title 16, United States Code, Sections 33372(a)(2)(A) and 3373(d)(1)(B).
According to the court documents, on or about April 29, 2012, in Broward County, and elsewhere in the Southern District of Florida, Cheung caused to be packed and shipped aboard domestic aircraft, approximately seventeen (17) Florida softshell turtles (Apalone ferox), in violation of the laws and regulations of the State of Florida, F.A.C. §§ 68A-25.002(6)(a)(2)(g). Additionally, according to the plea agreement and Court documents, Cheung agreed to the forfeiture of one 2006 white, refrigerated Isuzu truck, which was used to transport the turtles.
After allocution, U.S. District Judge Joan A. Lenard accepted Cheung’s plea. Sentencing for the defendant is scheduled on January 14, 2013 before U.S. District Judge Joan A. Lenard. Cheung faces a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison, three years supervised release, a maximum fine of $250,000.00, and a special assessment of $100.00.
Mr. Ferrer commended the joint efforts of FWS and FWC. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jaime Raich, Norman O. Hemming, III, and Antonia Barnes.
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.