David Sommers pleaded guilty today in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to trafficking protected turtles.
On July 10, 2018, a grand jury charged Sommers with smuggling a package containing diamondback terrapins to Canada and several Lacey Act offenses for mislabeling the package and trafficking turtles domestically. Sommers pleaded guilty to one felony count of violating the Lacey Act and agreed to forfeit nearly 3,500 diamondback terrapin hatchlings. The Lacey Act is the nation’s oldest wildlife trafficking statute and prohibits falsely labeling packages containing wildlife, fish, or plants.
Sommers acknowledged that he falsely labeled and trafficked turtles taken from their New Jersey marsh habitat from Aug. 7, 2014, through Oct. 24, 2017. According to the plea agreement, Sommers admitted to sending a package to Canada in 2014 containing 11 terrapin hatchlings. Sommers mislabeled the package as a book and underreported its value to avoid detection by customs authorities. Wildlife authorities from Environment and Climate Change Canada intercepted the package.
Read whole article in the U.S. Department of Justice press release: https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/man-pleads-guilty-pennsylvania-trafficking-protected-turtles