2017-08-09 / Features

Queens Man Charged With Possessing Stolen Tortoise

Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown announced on August 2 that a 36-year-old East Elmhurst man has been charged with criminal possession of a 17-year-old tortoise by the name of Millenium, that had been snatched from the Alley Pond Environmental Center in Douglaston on July 17.

District Attorney Brown said, “In the eyes of Millenium the tortoise, the wheels of justice must appear to be turning exceedingly swiftly. Abducted from his peaceful Queens habitat and transported across state lines to be traded, the man accused of brokering the deal is now being held accountable for his alleged actions but, more important, Millenium is back home where he belongs, much to the delight of children and other visitors to the environmental center.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Shawn Waters, 36, of 103rd Street in East Elmhurst. Waters was arraigned on August 2 before Queens Criminal Court Judge Jerry Iannece on a criminal complaint charging him with fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, a Class E felony punishable by up to four years in prison. Waters was ordered held on $10,000 bail and to return to court on August 16.

DA Brown said that, according to the complaint, an Alley Pond Environmental Center (APEC) employee discovered that Millenium, an African spurred tortoise, was missing at approximately 4:00 p.m. on July 16, and that there was a hole in the rear fence near the tortoise habitat. The 17-year-old tortoise is estimated to be worth approximately $2,500.

According to the charges, added Brown, a Stamford, Connecticut, man had posted an ad on Craigslist that he was selling a musk turtle and that, a day later, he received a cell phone call from a man who stated that he wanted to trade an African spurred tortoise for the turtle. On July 23 the Connecticut man allegedly met with the caller at the Fairfield, Connecticut, Metro-North train station and traded his musk turtle and $300 for an African spurred tortoise. On July 24 a detective from the NYPD’s 111th Detective Squad recovered the African spurred tortoise from the Connecticut man and, the following day, an APEC employee allegedly identified the recovered tortoise as the one that had been stolen from the environmental center.

Continuing, Brown said, according to the complaint, the cell phone used by the man trading the African spurred tortoise was traced to defendant Waters. It is alleged that in speaking with the NYPD detective, Waters stated, in sum and substance, that he had indeed spoken to the Connecticut man who had mentioned that he was looking for a tortoise. It is additionally alleged that after a series of phone calls with different people Waters eventually spoke with somebody to whom he stated that he was looking for a tortoise. The next day, it is alleged that Waters received a photograph of a tortoise that the person was willing to give him in exchange for a snapping turtle. Waters allegedly picked up the tortoise in Bayside and then went up to Connecticut to exchange the tortoise for the turtle.

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