A federal jury today found Robroy MacInnes, 54, of Inverness, Fla., and Robert Keszey, 47, of Bushnell, Fla., guilty of conspiracy to traffic in state and federally protected reptiles. MacInnes also was convicted of trafficking in protected timber rattlesnakes in violation of the Lacey Act.
Between 2007 and 2008, the defendants, who own the reptile wholesaler Glades Herp Farm Inc., collected protected snakes from the wild in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, purchased protected eastern timber rattlesnakes that had been illegally collected from the wild in violation of New York law, and transported federally threatened eastern indigo snakes from Florida to Pennsylvania. MacInnes also violated the Lacey Act by purchasing illegal eastern timber rattlesnakes and having the snakes transported from Pennsylvania to Florida. The evidence at trial showed that the protected species were destined for sale at reptile shows in Europe, where a single timber rattlesnake can sell for up to $800. Snakes that were not sold in Europe were sold through the defendants’ business in the United States.
“These defendants broke numerous wildlife laws seeking to profit from an illegal trade in threatened species,” said Robert G. Dreher, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The Justice Department is committed to enforcing wildlife laws like the Endangered Species Act and the Lacey Act that protect our environment and these threatened species from a destructive and dangerous black market trade.”
The eastern timber rattlesnake is a species of venomous pit viper native to the eastern United States, and is listed as threatened in New York. It is also illegal to possess an eastern timber rattlesnake without a permit in Pennsylvania. The eastern indigo snake, the longest native North American snake species, is listed as threatened by both Florida and federal law.
The Lacey Act, one of the oldest statutes in the United States, prohibits interstate trafficking in wildlife known to be illegally obtained. The maximum penalty for conspiring to commit offenses and for violations of the Lacey Act is up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each violation.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement, with assistance from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Patrick M. Duggan and paralegal Ashleigh Nye of the Environmental Crimes Section of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Kay Costello of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.