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Press Release

Holly Hill Area Men Plead Guilty to Conspiracy to Smuggle Wildlife

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of South Carolina

Columbia, South Carolina ---- United States Attorney Sherri A. Lydon stated today that Joseph Logan Brooks, age 29, formerly of Holly Hill, Matthew Tyler Fischer, age 25, of Holly Hill, and Matthew Harrison Kail, age 30, of Pomona Park, Florida, pled guilty to Conspiracy to Smuggle Wildlife, a violation of Title 18, United States Code, § 371.  William Fischer, age 48, of Harleyville, pled guilty to Wildlife Trafficking, a violation of Title 16, United States Code, § 3372(a), a misdemeanor.  Senior Judge Joseph F. Anderson, Jr., accepted the pleas and will sentence the defendants at a later date.  

Evidence presented at the hearing established that the four participated in a syndicate of wildlife smugglers exchanging turtles protected by international agreements back and forth between the United States and China.  The conspiracy was led by Steven Baker, age 38, of Holly Hill, who pled guilty in June 2018.  The activity took place from January through June 2016.  Baker obtained protected turtles from Hong Kong to distribute here in the United States, and he shipped protected turtles from the United States to Asia.  Brooks accepted delivery of international packages containing protected turtles.  Matthew Fischer gave Baker access to his bank account to receive international wire transfers of funds.  Kail provided, bought, and sold protected turtles.  William Fischer negotiated for the purchase of two protected turtles. 

The transactions were set up using the Facebook text messaging feature.  Shipments were made internationally through the United States Postal Service.  Several packages were intercepted entering the United States at John F. Kennedy International Airport

The maximum penalty faced by Brooks, Matthew Fischer, and Kail is imprisonment for five years, with a potential fine up to $250,000.  The maximum penalty faced by William Fischer is imprisonment of one year and a fine of $10,000.

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources investigated the case.  Assistant United States Attorney Winston David Holliday, Jr., of the Columbia office is prosecuting the case.



Winston David Holliday, Jr. (803) 920-6097

Updated September 5, 2018