By Alex Lloyd Gross
Dave Sommers, 62, has been around the block a few times. He knows right from wrong but apparently, he thought he could get away with poaching turtles and turtle eggs from the marsh lands of New Jersey, police said. This is illegal and hurts the eco-system. Sommers is accused of poaching and shipping the terrapins which were protected by Federal Law. in February. It is a violation for the Lacy Act to do this.
This was not a one time lapse in judgement. Sommers was a huge supplier of illegal turtles allover the world, authorities allege. . He would illegally remove the turtles from their natural habitat,or dig up turtle eggs and sell his ill gotten gains all over the world. Instead of carefully packaging them as live turtles,he would seal them in a box and label it “books” .Unsuspecting package handlers would treat the package as a book, and toss it, and ship it in cargo holds which are freezing and not properly pressurized. It is unknown if any turtles were killed or injured during Sommers shipping techniques, federal officials said.
Sommers is accused of shipping over turtles over several years. His antics caught the attention of law enforcement. They got warrants and tracked Sommers’ vehicles into New Jersey. The former reporter was caught digging up turtle eggs by local cops, issued a summons. The brazen turtle thief was back the next night, with a different car, in the came area. Cops set up a sting operation to catch him . It is legal to breed the turtles but that is not what Sommers was doing. He is accused of taking the wild life and shipping them into Canada and other parts of the globe.
Sommers made more than $500,000 dollars from doing this over several years, authorities allege. . He was once a reporter with the Trentonian. He was heavily involved in local politics, supporting republican candidates for office. He was also a gopher at a local law office. There is a very good chance Sommers will be sentenced to some jail time, due to the large amount of stolen turtles and length of time he was doing this. During a raid of his Levittown home over 3400 Diamond Back Terrapins were seized. They are protected by an international treaty, as well as US Law. Each lacy Act violation could get him 5 years in jail and the smuggling charge could get him a decade behind bars.