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July 01, 2015

N.J. man pleads guilty to selling rare species of turtles online

Crime and Courts Wildlife
07012015_Turtle_AP Carolyn Kaster/AP

A male Eastern box turtle moves across a path at Wildwood Lake Sanctuary in Harrisburg, Pa.

A New Jersey man pleaded guilty Tuesday to illegally selling a variety of turtles online, reports.

Patrick Elfers, 48, admitted to keeping a number of rare turtle species, including North American wood turtles, spotted turtles and Eastern box turtles, at his Jersey City home. 

According to court papers, he purchased the turtles from an unidentified individual living in West Virginia and others, and then advertised them for sale on wildlife trade websites to buyers in New Jersey and elsewhere.

Elfers would then ship the turtles to buyers in New York by tying the turtles in tube socks to restrict their movement and packing them in boxes not appropriate for shipping live animals, federal prosecutors say.

federal law prohibits the interstate sale of wildlife with a market value of more than $350. 

Elfers faces five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. In addition, he has agreed to pay a $30,450 fine to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Lacey Act Reward Fund.

Elfers' sentencing is set for Sept. 29.