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Kevin M. McMaster Sentenced to 25 Months in Federal Prison For Selling Federally-Protected Wildlife Valued at More Than $200,000

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 20, 2006


Contacts:
Tim Santel, 217- 971-5100
Scott Flaherty,
612-713-5309
Tom MacKenzie,
404-679-7291


A Pennsylvania man who sold more than $200,000 worth of endangered species’ parts, hides and mounts through his website and retail shop in Port St. Lucie, Florida, was sentenced 25 months in prison today by a federal court in Miami, Fla. Kevin M. McMaster, of Greensboro, Pa., was also ordered to serve three years of supervised probation upon his release from prison and pay a $250 special court assessment.

McMaster, 35, recently relocated to Greensboro, Pa., from Port St. Lucie where he operated a website known as Deadzoo.com and a retail store, Exotic & Unique Gifts, businesses through which he admitted to selling more than $200,000 worth of federally-protected wildlife including tiger, snow leopard and jaguar skins as well as a gorilla skull and baby tiger mounts between 2003 and 2004.

Special agents of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began investigating McMaster’s illegal wildlife trade in November 2003 after an agent in Illinois received an unsolicited e-mail message from McMaster offering “cat skins” for sale. The agent eventually purchased two Bengal tiger skins for $15,300; a snow leopard skin for $7,000 and a clouded leopard skin for $4,500. Agents searched McMaster’s Florida home in December 2004 and obtained evidence of additional illegal sales.

In addition to his own website, McMaster offered to sell protected wildlife using other websites such as eBay and Taxidermy.net. Tim Santel, resident agent in charge at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Law Enforcement Office in Springfield, Ill., said the Internet provides users with a false sense of anonymity and security that encourages some people to engage in illegal activities. “The Internet is helping to grow the illegal wildlife trade, but it’s also providing law enforcement with the means to investigate and track down the traders,” said Santel, who led the investigation. “Today’s sentencing demonstrates the Internet is not a safe haven for anyone engaged in the illegal buying or selling of protected wildlife.”

McMaster was charged by criminal information in December 2005 with two felony violations of the Lacey Act and two misdemeanor violations of the Endangered Species Act, two federal wildlife protection laws. McMaster pleaded guilty in federal court in January 2006 to selling and offering to sell in interstate commerce more than $200,000 worth of endangered species. The Lacey Act prohibits the transportation of endangered and threatened wildlife that was knowingly sold in violation of any federal wildlife-related regulation or law, and the charge carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000. Under the ESA it unlawful to offer for sale or to sell in interstate commerce any endangered species of wildlife, and the charge carries a maximum penalty of one year imprisonment and a fine of $100,000.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses more than 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance Program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

 


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