Sulphur men sentenced for trafficking alligator snapping turtles

Sulphur men sentenced for trafficking alligator snapping turtles

(KPLC) - A Sulphur man and his brother have been sentenced to federal prison for trafficking alligator snapping turtles.

Travis Leger, of Sulphur, was sentenced to one year and nine months in prison. His half-brother, Jason Leckelt, of Oklahoma, was sentenced to one year and four months in prison and Rickey Simon, of Sulphur, was sentenced to three years probation.

Once their sentences are complete, Leger and Leckelt will be placed on three years supervised release.

Rickey Simon, of Sulphur, was sentenced to three years of probation for his role in the trafficking.

Alligator snapping turtles are protected under Texas and Louisiana state law.

Leger, Leckelt and Simon all pleaded guilty on Aug. 22, to a charge of conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act by illegally trafficking alligator snapping turtles.

Leger admitted to selling a live 171-pound turtle for $1,000 and a live 168-pound turtle for $500 in May and June of 2016, according to information provided by the U.S. Attorney's Office. The turtles were later seized by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agents.

Simon admitted that he sold a 120-pound turtle to an undercover Special Agent of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on May 19, 2016.

The three were accused of taking more than 60 large turtles during multiple fishing trips to Texas in the spring and summer of 2016, then transporting the turtles back to a property in Sulphur for sale. Leger admitted that the market value of all the turtles that he caught and sold was between $40,000 and $95,000. The market value of the turtles sold by Leckelt was between $15,000 and $40,000.

Federal agents seized about 30 large turtles from ponds located at Leger's property in Sulphur in June 2016.

As part of his guilty plea, Leger agreed to forfeit all of the seized turtles and permit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to return to his property, drain the ponds, and seize any turtles remaining in the ponds.

The turtles will be cared for at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Natchitoches Fish Hatchery and used as part of a breeding program to restock the species in its native waterways in the southwestern United States.

The U.S. Attorney's Office also announced that in an unrelated case, Montaro Alabimo Williams, of Elton, pleaded guilty on Dec. 6, in federal court in Beaumont, Texas, to a misdemeanor violation of the Lacey Act for knowingly attempting to transport two alligator snapping turtles, which he caught in Texas, to Louisiana on Aug. 12, 2013.

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