Attorney General James and DEC Commissioner Seggos Announce Conviction of Illegal Shark Trafficker
Joshua Seguine Kept Live Sharks in a Pool at His Home; Offered Them for Sale on the Internet
Seguine Ordered to Pay $5,000 fine and Sentenced to a Conditional Discharge
NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James and New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced the conviction and sentencing of Joshua Seguine, 40, of the Hamlet of LaGrangeville in Dutchess County. Seguine pleaded guilty in the Town of LaGrange Justice Court to Illegal Commercialization of Fish, Shellfish, Crustaceans, and Wildlife for the illegal possession with intent to sell seven sandbar sharks, a protected species under New York law. Seguine was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine and sentenced to a conditional discharge.
“The tide has turned for Joshua Seguine, who was convicted and held accountable for his unlawful acts,” said Attorney General James. “Let this serve as a loud and clear message: We will not tolerate anyone who preys on protected species to line their pockets. My office will continue to enforce the laws that safeguard our wildlife, and we will hold accountable those who violate them.”
“I applaud the work of our environmental conservation police officers, who spearheaded the investigation that resulted in Joshua Seguine being brought to justice,” said DEC Commissioner Seggos. “It is critical that we work to protect endangered species that are taken from their natural habitats and sold for profit. I thank Attorney General James and her staff for their work on this case and hope that it serves as a reminder to everyone that New York state will continue to crack down on these crimes, and prosecute those responsible.”
Seguine first came to the attention of DEC law enforcement in July of 2017, when he was arrested in the state of Georgia by Department of Natural Resources Investigator John Evans for driving without a license and for possessing five undersized sharks in a large circular tank in the back of his truck. Seguine admitted that he was transporting the sharks to New York state, where he intended to sell them, and that he possessed additional live sharks at his house in New York. After Investigator Evans sent this information to the DEC, investigators researched and discovered that Seguine — who was conducting business under the name Aquatic Apex Life LLC — had offered sharks for sale as recently as June 29, 2017, on the website MonsterFishKeepers.com.
Equipped with this information, DEC police obtained a warrant to search Seguine’s house in LaGrangeville. DEC officers — accompanied by biologists from the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead, New York, and the Wildlife Conservation Society’s New York Aquarium at Coney Island — conducted the search and discovered an above-ground pool in Seguine’s house that contained seven live sharks. The sharks were subsequently identified as sandbar sharks, the possession of which is prohibited by New York law without a special license. The search also uncovered two dead leopard sharks, one dead hammerhead shark, and the snout of a smalltooth sawfish (an endangered species).
Biologists from the two aquariums assessed the sharks and transferred them to the Riverhead facility. The sharks were subsequently moved to the New York Aquarium at Coney Island.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Hugh L. McLean of the Office of the Attorney General’s Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau’s Environmental Crimes Unit. The Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau is led by Bureau Chief Stephanie Swenton and Deputy Bureau Chief Joseph D’Arrigo. The Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau is a part of the Division for Criminal Justice, which is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General José Maldonado and overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.
The DEC's Division of Law Enforcement investigation was led by Environmental Crimes Investigator Jeffrey Conway and Environmental Conservation Police Officer Deo W. Read, under the supervision of Lt. Nick Desotelle, Lt. Mike Buckley, Captain Martin Townley, and Captain Jesse Paluch.