TULSA, Okla. -- A New Jersey man has been sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $350,000 after he pleaded guilty to smuggling more than 1,000 box turtles out of Oklahoma.
William T. Gangemi, 27, of Freehold, New Jersey, was sentenced Tuesday in federal court in Tulsa after pleading guilty last fall. He was ordered to pay $250,000 in restitution to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and a $100,000 fine to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“Gangemi was part of a syndicate of wildlife smugglers that exchanged three-toed and western box turtles back and forth between the United States and China," said Trent Shores, U.S. attorney for the northern district of Oklahoma. "I can’t say that I ever expected we’d be announcing a turtle-smuggling prosecution, but I’ve learned just how prevalent this criminal enterprise is globally, and the detrimental impact it has on our wildlife population in Oklahoma, not just today but for future generations.
Gangemi was accused of violating a federal law against the sale or purchase of illegally collected wildlife with a market value over $350. He admitted in a plea agreement that he bought three-toed and western box turtles from people in Oklahoma, then sold them for a profit.
Court documents said the reptiles were shipped via FedEx to New Jersey.