Alleged turtle thieves busted in N.Y.

March 31, 2009 at 8:15 PM
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MINEOLA, N.Y., March 31 (UPI) -- Three New York men have been charged with selling protected turtles illegally on Long Island, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Kathleen Rice, the Nassau District Attorney, said that one of the three, Edward Otero, 45, of Syosset faces a felony charge, Newsday reported. Otero allegedly sold 10 spotted turtles, a species protected under state law, to an undercover investigator in a parking lot in April for $2,600.

Rice and environmental officials brought several turtles to a news conference to announce the results of "Operation Shellshock," the name given the investigation.

Otero, Harry W. Faustmann, 65, of North Bellmore, and Jeffrey E. Bollbach, 54, of Freeport, all face charges of illegal commercialization of fish, shellfish, crustaceans and wildlife. The charges against Otero are more serious because the amount of money was more than $1,500.

The investigation netted two arrests in Suffolk County. Adam Borisuk, 33, of Wading River, and Michael Brooks, 31, of Holbrook, allegedly gathered snapping turtle eggs on state land, hatched them and sold the hatchlings.

Otero's lawyer described him as a "well-regarded fish and reptile enthusiast" and said he purchased the turtles legally in Florida.

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