ShareThis Page

York man indicted for trafficking turtles

| Wednesday, July 11, 2018, 10:57 a.m.

A Bucks County man has been indicted on charges he trafficked a threatened turtle species.

David Sommers, 62, of York, is charged with smuggling and four violations of the Lacey Act, which prohibits wildlife trafficking, the Department of Justice announced Tuesday.

Prosecutors say a warrant served at Sommers’ home in October resulted in the discovery of 3,400 newly hatched diamondback terrapin turtles.

According to the indictment, Sommers, throughout 2017, traveled to New Jersey where he poached the turtles and their eggs. Sommers also, according to the indictment, in 2014, smuggled turtles into Canada in a package which he labeled as containing a book.

“The distinctive coloration and pattern of the diamondback terrapin make it highly susceptible to illegal poaching and smuggling,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Wood of the Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Division, said in a release. “The Department of Justice will continue to work with its law enforcement partners to prosecute those who break our nation’s wildlife protection statutes for the sake of illegal profit.”

According to a release by DOJ, the turtles in question are not native to Pennsylvania. The species is semi-aquatic and found in brackish water in the eastern and southern U.S. There is, according to Justice, there is a dwindling population of the turtles native to New Jersey.

“The terrapins are prized in the reptile pet trade for their unique, diamond-shaped shell markings. The turtles are protected under New Jersey law and by an international treaty, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora,” the release reads, in part.

If convicted, Sommers faces up to 15 years behind bars.

Prosecutors say the 3,400 young turtles found in Sommers’ home have been returned to their habitat in New Jersey.

Matthew Medsger is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Matthew at 724-226-4675, or via Twitter @matthew_medsger.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me