According to a release sent out by the Department of Justice, twice convicted turtle thief Lewis Jackson, 61, of Brunswick, Georgia was sentenced today by Chief United States District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood to serve a little less than two years in prison.
This will be the second conviction for Jackson for violating the Lacey Act by stealing viable sea turtle eggs from Sapelo Island, Georgia. He was sentenced to six months in prison back in 2013 for his first lacy Act conviction.
The Act restricts anyone from stealing and transporting endangered species, which includes loggerhead sea turtle eggs.
According to the evidence presented during the guilty plea and sentencing hearing on July 6, 2015 it was discovered by a Wildlife Technician with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Sea Turtle Program that 84 loggerhead sea turtle eggs were missing from a nest on Sapelo Island.
Reviewing the visitors on the island that day, law enforcement was able to uncover that Jackson had been a visitor that day and had previously stolen over 150 loggerhead turtle eggs in 2012.
Jackson was arrested the next day after trying to depart from the island with a cooler filled with the turtle eggs. It was clear by his wrapping Jackson had the intent on selling them.
The eggs were determined to be no loner viable and had to be destroyed.
United States Attorney Edward Tarver said, “After a prison sentence 3 ½ times longer than his first, this defendant should finally get the message that when you seek to profit by unlawfully exploiting our endangered species and national treasures, your next stop will be a federal prison.”
“We appreciate the cooperation from the other agencies in bringing this case to a successful close,” said Colonel Eddie Henderson, director of Georgia DNR’s Law Enforcement Division. “I hope this sends a message that crimes that negatively impact wildlife, or any of our natural resources, won’t be tolerated in Georgia.”
This case was investigated by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and the United States Probation Office. Assistant United States Attorney E. Greg Gilluly, Jr. prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States