Ocelot causes plenty of trouble for nine people
In all, Operation Cat Tale led police to nine people who were buying or selling endangered animals.
Some local people are in big trouble after buying an endangered animal.
It’s not illegal to be given one, but if you buy or sell an endangered ocelot, you could be a lot of trouble. Great Cats of the World, a southern
They then tried to cover it up.
Now they each have to pay a $10,000 fine.
Federal investigators also fined Collette Griffiths of
In all, Operation Cat Tale has nabbed nine people.
Woman charged with buying exotic animal
August 5, 2006
A Silverton woman has been charged with buying an endangered exotic animal and falsifying purchase records.
Jackie Sinott was charged this week by the U.S Attorney General’s Office with purchasing an ocelot, a small, wild cat on the endangered-species list. There are thought to be fewer than 70 ocelots in the wild in the
Officials say she falsified federal forms by claiming that the cat was a donation but paid "thousands of dollars" for it. It is legal to receive an ocelot as a gift but illegal to purchase one.
She was placed in pretrial diversion. If she pays a $10,000 fine, cooperates with the government’s investigation and obeys all state and federal laws, the charges will be dismissed in six months.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton said Sinott will be allowed to keep the ocelot as long as she meets all state and local laws for animal care and containment.
Five Defendants From
Dwight Holton, Assistant
5 Defendants Illegally Sold and Purchased Ocelots and Lied To Cover Up The Sales
3 Others Issued Civil Fines by the
PORTLAND, OREGON – Five defendants from Oregon, California, Texas and New York have been charged with various crimes related to the illegal sale of ocelots, a rare species of leopard protected under the federal Endangered Species Act. Three others, from
As few as 70 ocelots are known to remain in the wild in the
Ocelots have been listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act since 1972. The Endangered Species Act ("ESA") establishes a near-total ban on the sale of endangered animals. The purpose of the blanket prohibition is to end the commercialization of endangered species. When endangered wildlife are commercialized – that is, when animals or animal parts are sold – the commercialization encourages the development of a blackmarket for the animals and parts, which in turn creates further incentives for poachers to illegally take endangered species from their habitat. Poaching has already decimated certain species and threatens to do the same to many others.
The investigation in this case uncovered an aggressive, nationwide effort to sell endangered animals illegally and cover up the illegal sales through lies and deceit. In each of the five criminal cases announced today, the defendant is alleged to have taken affirmative steps to cover up the illegal nature of the sale by lying to federal authorities. Gifts of endangered species are not barred by law. In each of these five cases, the defendant completed federally-required forms claiming that the ocelot was a gift to the purchaser, when in fact it was sold. In each case, the ocelots were sold for thousands of dollars – many at a cost of $5,000 per animal.
Two of the ocelots sold as part of the illegal sales died while under care of the purchaser, although no claims of mistreatment are alleged. Five ocelots have been or will be seized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, including the two dead animals.
"The Endangered Species Act is critical in our effort to save treasures like the ocelot and protect biodiversity, and we will undertake vigorous enforcement against people who illegally commercialize threatened and endangered animals," said U.S. Attorney Karin J. Immergut. "The Endangered Species Act has proven its effectiveness beyond doubt. For example, bald eagles, our national symbol, faced the threat of extinction not long ago" now, thanks in large part to the Endangered Species Act, bald eagles are thriving throughout their habitat in the
Paul Chang, Special Agent in Charge of Law Enforcement in the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Pacific Region, said, "The successful results of this investigation represent the strong commitment and teamwork that exists with our counterparts around the country and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. This collaborative work illustrates how we can make a difference in putting a halt to the desecration of our precious wildlife resources."
Four of the five defendants in the cases announced today have reached plea agreements with the
The case was investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Dwight C. Holton and Amy E. Potter. Further inquiries can be directed to AUSA Holton at 503-727-1128, Diane Peterson, Public Information Officer, U.S. Attorney’s Office,at 503-727-l066, or Joan Jewett, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, at 503-231-6211.
OPERATION CAT TALE:
Case Fact Sheet
The Isis Society for Inspirational Studies, also known as the "
The parties have agreed to recommend to the Court that the
The agreement also requires the
Great Cats of the World is an
Great Cats of the World has entered a plea agreement with the
The parties have agreed to recommend that Great Cats of the World pay a fine of $10,000 and be placed on federal probation for a period of one year. The defendant has also agreed to forfeit the illegally purchased ocelot. The agreement also requires Great Cats of the World to cooperate fully with the investigation.
Amelia Rasmussen is a resident of
Rasmussen has entered a plea agreement with the
The parties have agreed to recommend that Rasmussen pay a fine of $15,000 and be placed on federal probation for a period of one year.
Jacke Sinott is a resident of
The charges against Donnelly allege that he bought two ocelots from Deborah Walding in April 2002 in violation of the Endangered Species Act and the Lacey Act. The Lacey Act makes it illegal to receive or transport an animal sold in violation of the Endangered Species Act. Walding was convicted of illegal ocelot trafficking in 2005. The Indictment against Donnelly also alleges that Donnelly falsified a federal form by claiming that the sale was a "donation."
An indictment is only an allegation of criminal activity. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
Donnelly has been summoned to answer the charges against him on August 4, 2006.
The Civil Fines
Three people have been fined by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a part of this investigation.
§ Konstantin Lyavdansky of
§ Jeannette Giacinto of
§Collette Griffiths of
Thursday, August 03, 2006
Great Cats of the World, a Cave Junction wildlife park that formerly operated in
The two defendants each agreed to pay a $10,000 fine. Sinott had to forfeit the ocelot. Great Cats of the World agreed to be placed on federal probation for one year. The charges against Sinott will be dismissed if she obeys all state and federal laws for six months and cooperates with prosecutors.