Florida Couple Pleads Guilty to Scheme to Evade $42 Million in Duties for Illegally Importing and Selling Plywood
Robroy MacInnes, 54, of Fort Myers, Fla., Robert Keszey, 47, of Bushnell, Fla., and Glades Herp Farm Inc., were charged in a two-count indictment today in federal court in Philadelphia, announced Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and Zane David Memeger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The indictment charges MacInnes, Keszey and the Florida business they co-own, Glades Herp Farm, with conspiracy to traffic in endangered and threatened reptiles, as well as charging MacInnes and Glades with trafficking in protected timber rattlesnakes in violation of the Lacey Act.
According to the indictment, between 2007 and 2008, the defendants collected protected snakes from the wild in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, purchased protected eastern timber rattlesnakes that had been illegally collected from the wild in violation of New York law, and transported federally threatened eastern indigo snakes from Florida to Pennsylvania. The indictment also charges that defendants MacInnes and Glades violated the Lacey Act by purchasing illegal eastern timber rattlesnakes and having the snakes transported to Florida.
The eastern timber rattlesnake is a species of venomous pit viper native to the Eastern United States, and is considered endangered in New Jersey and threatened in New York. It is also illegal to possess an eastern timber rattlesnake without a permit in Pennsylvania. The eastern indigo snake, the longest native North American snake species, is listed as threatened by both Florida and Federal law.
The Lacey Act, one of the oldest statutes in the United States, prohibits interstate trafficking in wildlife known to be illegally obtained. The maximum penalty for conspiring to commit offenses and for violations of the Lacey Act is up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each violation.
The allegations in the indictment are mere accusations and all persons are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
This case is being investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement. The case is being prosecuted by Patrick M. Duggan of the Environmental Crimes Section of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Kay Costello of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.