South Florida reptile vendor sentenced to jail over unlawful turtle exports – Solar Sentinel

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A South Florida reptile vendor was sentenced Tuesday to seven months in jail and fined $100,000 for promoting 1000’s of illegally caught Florida turtles, in a bootleg commerce pushed largely by demand in Asia.

Michael Van Nostrand, who had been the topic of the best-selling e book “The Lizard King,” used a community of collectors to catch turtles within the wild after which submitted paperwork that falsely claimed the turtles had been captive-bred.

His firm, Strictly Reptiles of Hollywood, was fined $150,000 and positioned on probation for 5 years. As a part of the sentence, imposed by U.S. District Decide Kathleen Williams, the corporate should pay for a monitor to supervise its enterprise throughout its interval of probation.

Van Nostrand illegally bought 3,475 turtles, together with three-stripe mud turtles, Florida mud turtles, softshell turtles, musk turtles and hen turtles, based on a press release submitted to the courtroom that was signed by Van Nostrand. Their market worth was about $245,000. The turtles have been shipped to prospects in Louisiana, California, Japan and China.

He falsely claimed they have been captive bred to make it seem he was complying with a Florida ban on the business catch of turtles, imposed in 2009 as demand for them in Asia for meals, pets and conventional drugs threatened to deplete the state’s turtle inhabitants.

Van Nostrand, who pleaded responsible final November, additionally was sentenced to a few years’ of supervised launch, together with one yr of home arrest. The fines might be paid into the Lacey Act Reward Account, a federal account that’s used for the care and remedy of animals seized in investigations or courtroom circumstances.

He has beforehand served jail time for purchasing smuggled wildlife.

His firm on Stirling Highway ships reptiles, amphibians and mammals to prospects all over the world. Amongst their merchandise are ball pythons, boa constrictors, inexperienced tree pythons, rat snakes, scorpions, tarantulas and child alligators

Van Nostrand’s attorneys argued for leniency, saying in a sentencing memorandum that he was affected by kidney most cancers and different well being points, elevating the danger to him if he contracts COVID-19 in jail. They produced testimonials from workers, described his involvement in youth sports activities and referred to as him a “basically type, compassionate man with a deep love and respect for all dwelling issues.”

Prosecutors argued that he was committing severe crimes that threatened native wildlife populations and {that a} important sentence could be consistent with penalties imposed on others who violated the legislation to smuggle wildlife out of america.

“Defendants and their coconspirators in simply two years eliminated nearly 3,500 specimens from the wild,” they wrote. “Current case legislation is rife with prison prosecutions targeted on the extraordinary lack of home reptile populations from america to the Asian pet commerce.”

David Fleshler will be reached at dfleshler@sunsentinel.com and 954-356-4535. Observe him on Twitter @DavidFleshler.

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