Man charged with smuggling exotic cats through L.A. airport
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
LOS ANGELES (AP) – A 45-year-old man was arrested Monday on charges of sneaking two protected Asian leopard cats through Los Angeles International Airport and lying for a friend who smuggled two pygmy monkeys in his pants.
Chris Edward Mulloy of Palm Springs, Calif., brought the protected cats into the United States June 13, 2002, on a flight from Thailand, federal authorities contend. While Mulloy made it passed airport customs agents, his travelling companion, Robert Cusack, was arrested after inspectors found four birds of paradise and several orchids of a threatened species in his baggage.
Cusack also admitted to hiding two endangered pygmy monkeys in his underwear, authorities said. He was later sentenced to 57 days in jail for trying to smuggle the animals, which were confiscated and taken to the Los Angeles Zoo.
Mulloy, who allegedly was hiding two Asian leopard newborns his own backpack, was able to slip passed inspectors “perhaps because of the excitement at the discovery of the monkeys,” said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Federal prosecutors claim Mulloy called his sister, Darlah Kaye Mulloy, to help unload the cats. She allegedly helped him deliver the cats to her son and his girlfriend at the time, Mrozek said. One cat ended up in Texas and one is in Orange County, south of Los Angeles, with his former girlfriend.
The case against Mulloy and his sister, detailed in a federal indictment handed down in February, was filed only recently after the parties involved came forward, Mrozek said.
Chris Mulloy faces counts of smuggling, fraudulently concealing a protected species and lying to officials with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Customs. He could face up to 20 years in prison and fines up to US$1 million if convicted on all charges, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph O. Johns.
His sister was charged with illegally receiving, concealing and transporting wildlife, and attempting to obstruct justice and tamper with a witness.
Chris Mulloy was released on US$50,000 bond after agreeing to surrender his passport. His arraignment was set for next Monday.
Attempts to reach Chris Mulloy were unsuccessful; his number was unlisted.