New Jersey Man Sentenced For Purchasing Turtles in Violation of the Lacey Act
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Louisiana
According to court documents, United States Fish & Wildlife Service agents were conducting an investigation into the unlawful capture and interstate sale of various domestic turtle species. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is a multilateral treaty signed in 1975, which was designed to ensure the survival of certain plants and animals. These plants and animals are listed within 3 appendices in CITES. Species listed on Appendix II of CITES may become threatened with extinction unless trade is strictly regulated. Since February 16, 1995, the common box turtle (Terrapene Carolina) has been listed on Appendix II of CITES. The Lacey Act makes it unlawful to import, export, sell, acquire, or purchase wildlife (listed in CITES) in interstate commerce, that is in violation of any state law. Louisiana has several statutes that prohibit threatened reptiles such as the common box turtle, from being sold or entered into commerce, without proper licensing.
During the course of the investigation, the agents developed evidence that Louisiana residents were involved in the capture and subsequent interstate sale of common box turtles to out of state purchasers. One of these sellers cooperated with agents and negotiated the sale of 25 common box turtles to the defendant. Agents then PIT (Passive Integrated Transponder) tagged the turtles, packaged and transported them to the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) for delivery. A USPIS agent then conducted a controlled delivery of the turtles to the defendant’s residence and later executed a search warrant, wherein many of the turtles were identified by their PIT tags. HENNESSEY ultimately admitted that he did not possess any permits for any of the turtles and knew that by purchasing them in interstate commerce, he was violating state law.
U.S. Attorney Strasser praised the work of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the United States Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, and the United States Postal Inspection Service, in investigating this matter. He also thanked the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey for their assistance. Assistant United States Attorney Jon Maestri is in charge of the prosecution.
* * *
Updated May 12, 2020