Hilton Head Business Owner Indicted and Arraigned on Charges of Impersonating a Federal Agent and Illegal Sale of Juvenile Turtles
Contact Person: Beth Drake (803) 929-3000
Columbia, South Carolina ---- United States Attorney Bill. Nettles stated today that Steve Maleh, age 41, of Plantation, FL, was charged in a seven-count Indictment with providing false information to federal agents, impersonating a federal agent, and five counts of illegal distribution of juvenile turtles. Maleh was arrested and arraigned in United States District Court in Fort Lauderdale, FL. He was released on bond and is scheduled to make an initial appearance in the District of South Carolina on January 23, 2013. Maleh is the owner of Island Breeze in Hilton Head, SC. The maximum penalty Maleh could receive is a fine of $250,000 and/or imprisonment for five years.
The sale of turtles with a carapace length of less than 4 inches has been banned by the federal government since 1975. The purpose for the ban is to avoid exposure of individuals, primarily children, to salmonella, which can be regularly found on turtles.
Mr. Nettles stated that the case was investigated by agents of the United States Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations and the Hilton Head Code Enforcement Office, and that he has assigned the case to Assistant United States Attorney Nick Bianchi of the Charleston office for prosecution.
The United States Attorney stated that all charges in this Indictment are merely accusations and that all defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.