Amherst Man Charged With Trafficking Exotic Cats
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of New York
CONTACT: Barbara Burns
PHONE: (716) 843-5817
FAX #: (716) 551-3051
BUFFALO, N.Y. – U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr., and Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark announced today that a federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging Christopher Casacci, 38, of Amherst, NY, with violating the Lacey Act and the U.S. Animal Welfare Act based on his alleged trafficking of African wild cats in interstate commerce. The charges carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The indictment alleges that the defendant, doing business as “ExoticCubs.com,” imported and sold dozens of caracals (Caracal caracal) and servals (Leptailurus serval) in interstate commerce between February and June of 2018. Caracals, also known as the “desert lynx,” are wild cats native to Africa, and grow to approximately 45 pounds. Servals, also wild cats native to Africa, grow to approximately 40 pounds. Both species are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and their commercial possession and sale is restricted under New York state law.
Casacci is also charged with disguising his commercial activity by falsely declaring the animals as domesticated breeds, such as savannah cats and bengal cats, on shipping records.
People and businesses dealing in animals are required to comply with humane care standards under the Animal Welfare Act. The defendant is alleged to have failed to do so, and to have failed to secure the necessary license from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Casacci is charged with violating the Animal Welfare Act for selling animals without a license showing minimum compliance with humane treatment standards.
The defendant was arraigned this morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael J. Roemer and was released on conditions. He is due back in court for a status hearing on January 23, 2020, at 1:00 p.m.
The indictment is the result of an investigation by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Ryan Noel, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Patrick Duggan and Assistant United States Attorney Aaron J. Mango.
The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
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Updated January 9, 2020