LAWFUEL – US Law News – R. Alexander Acosta, United States…

LAWFUEL – US Law News – R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and William Calvert, Supervisory Law Enforcement Officer, United States Fish & Wildlife Service, announced that today, January 26, 2007, defendant Alvin G. Keel was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Daniel T. K. Hurley to 60 months’ imprisonment and a three (3) year term of supervised release.

Keel was convicted on October 30, 2006, after a one-day trial before Judge Hurley of the unlawful possession of Loggerhead sea turtle eggs, in violation of the Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. Section 1538, and the unlawful transportation of sea turtle eggs, in violation of the Lacey Act, 16 U.S.C. Section 3372. According to trial testimony and other court filings, Keel was seen digging up four separate nests of freshly laid Loggerhead sea turtle eggs on Juno Beach around midnight on June 4, 2004. The next day, law enforcement officers discovered a large bag containing two pillow cases filled with 481 sea turtle eggs in a vacant lot about 600 yards north of where Keel was apprehended the night before.

The turtle eggs are protected under Federal law as a threatened species. Judge Hurley found Keel guilty after trial on both counts of unlawful taking and transporting the sea turtle eggs in violation of both the Endangered Species and Lacey Acts. Keel faced a maximum statutory sentence of five (5) years imprisonment and up to $250,000 in fines as to Count 1, and up to one (1) year imprisonment and $50,000 fine as to Count 2.

Court records show that Keel has three prior federal convictions in the Southern District of Florida for crimes involving the illegal taking of protected sea turtle eggs, as well as four other state convictions involving the taking of sea turtle eggs.

Mr. Acosta commended the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Juno Beach Police Department, and the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission for their work in the case. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Lauren Jorgensen in the West Palm Beach U. S. Attorney’s Office.

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 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/ .

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