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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, February 13, 2015

A Palm Beach County Man Sentenced for Unlawfully Transporting Endangered Sea Turtles

A Palm Beach County resident was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra for unlawfully transporting endangered sea turtles.

Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and William H. Calvert, Supervisory Law Enforcement Officer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, West Palm Beach, made the announcement.

On August 15, 2014, James Odell McGriff, 56, of Riviera Beach, Florida, dug into two sea turtle nests and unlawfully took 299 endangered sea turtle eggs. Twelve of the eggs were held as evidence, and the remaining 287 sea turtle eggs were returned to the nests, in an effort to allow the eggs to continue to develop and possibly hatch. All species of sea turtles are protected by the Endangered Species Act, as either threatened or endangered species. McGriff intended to sell the illegally obtained eggs for $20.00 a dozen. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that the black market value is between $3.00 and $5.00 per stolen egg, for a total profit of between $897.00 and $1,495.00.

McGriff was sentenced to 14 months imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Additionally, Judge Marra ordered that McGriff not go east of the Intercoastal Waterway while he is on supervised release.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Department and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lauren Jorgensen.

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.

Updated March 16, 2015