Bucks County man pleads guilty to smuggling turtles

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Bucks Co. man pleads guilty to smuggling baby turtles. Matt O'Donnell reports during Action News Mornings on February 5, 2019.

A Bucks County man has pleaded guilty to trafficking protected turtles.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania says David Sommers of Levittown on Monday admitted to sending a package to Canada in 2014 containing 11 diamondback terrapin hatchlings.

Sommers pleaded guilty to one felony count of violating the Lacey Act and agreed to forfeit nearly 3,500 diamondback terrapin hatchlings that authorities say he poached from coastal marshes in New Jersey. The Lacey Act bans trade in illegally obtained wildlife, fish and plants.

As part of the agreement, prosecutors will drop the remaining charges against him at his sentencing on May 15. He faces up to five years in prison.

Terrapins are prized in the reptile pet trade for their unique shell markings. The turtles are protected under New Jersey law and by international treaty.

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