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Post date: December 23 2004

Individual Indicted For Illegally Selling Endangered Tortoise

Attorney General Spitzer and State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Erin Crotty today announced the indictment of an individual for attempting to sell an endangered tortoise.

The charges against Jack Yang stem from a September 15, 2004 Internet posting that offered an endangered radiated tortoise for sale for $18,000. An undercover environmental conservation officer contacted Mr. Yang and arranged to "purchase" the tortoise. Yang was arrested when he attempted to conduct the sale.

"This case illustrates the importance of enforcing the laws, especially those that protect endangered and threatened species. Anyone attempting to violate state laws to turn a profit should know they will be prosecuted," said Attorney General Spitzer. We will continue to work diligently with the DEC and Commissioner Crotty to prosecute those who place personal gain above the public good by violating environmental laws."

DEC Commissioner Crotty said, "This multi-agency partnership demonstrates New York State's commitment to upholding the Environmental Conservation Law and brings attention to the dangers facing some of our most unique and rare animals. I want to thank DEC's Division of Law Enforcement and the Attorney General's office for their efforts in this investigation and in continuing our mission to protect threatened and endangered species throughout the State."

The indictment charges that in early September of 2004, Jack Yang, 28, of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn posted on the Internet an offer to sell a radiated tortoise (Geochelone radiata) for $18,000. The radiated tortoise is an endangered species originating from Madagascar. No person is permitted to sell endangered species unless he holds a DEC license to do so, which defendant does not.

Between September 15, 2004 and September 17, 2004, an undercover officer communicated with Yang and discussed purchasing the tortoise. On September 17, 2004, Yang delivered the radiated tortoise to the undercover officer and agreed to sell it to the undercover for $18,000. At that time, the defendant was arrested and the tortoise was seized and transported to the Bronx Zoo.

The defendant is charged with two counts of Illegal Commercialization of Fish, Shellfish, Crustaceans and Wildlife, in violation of Environmental Conservation Law §§ 71-0924(3), 71-0924(4), 71-0919(1)(b) and 11-0535(2), an E felony.

The charges in the indictment are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.