Sentence Imposed In Turtle Egg Importation Case – US Attorney

R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida and Hal Robbins, Special Agent in Charge, NOAA Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement, Southeast Division, announced today that defendant Clive Brown, 59, of Miramar, Florida, was convicted and sentenced today in federal District Court in West Palm Beach on a charge that he illegally imported endangered sea turtle parts and eggs into the United States, in violation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), Title 16 , United States Code, Sections 1538(a)(1)(A) and 1540(b)(1).

According to the criminal Information and statements in court, on April 20, 2008, Brown entered the United States at Fort Lauderdale International Airport on a flight from Jamaica. During a routine examination by a Customs and Border Protection Agricultural Specialist, Brown was found to be carrying 11 sea turtle eggs and a segment of a sea turtle shoulder with an attached flipper.

Forensic DNA analysis at NOAA’s Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research in Charleston, South Carolina, identified the sea turtle eggs and flipper as originating from a Hawksbill sea turtle (Trachemys imbricata).

United States Magistrate Judge Ann E. Vitunac, who accepted Brown’s plea of guilty to the charge, also imposed sentence in the matter. Brown was sentenced to court-supervised probation for a period of two years and to pay a fine of $1,000.

The Hawksbill sea turtle is listed as an endangered species under the ESA and are internationally protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), to which the United States and Jamaica are both parties. The ESA, at Section 1532(8), defines the term “fish or wildlife” as any member of the animal kingdom, including without limitation any mammal, fish, bird, amphibian, reptile, mollusk, crustacean, arthropod or other invertebrate, and includes any part, egg, or offspring thereof, or the dead body or parts thereof.

Mr. Acosta commended the coordinated enforcement efforts of the Special Agents of the NOAA Office For Enforcement and the Agricultural Specialists of Customs and Border Protection, which brought the matter to a successful conclusion. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Thomas Watts-FitzGerald.

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 www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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