Florida Man Nabbed for Contraband Snakes and Lizards
Also, Officers Rescue Dog from Burning Boat, Make Arrests for Stuffed Owls and State Park Damage
A Florida man was fined and sentenced Thursday in federal court to probation and community service for illegally transporting snakes and lizards in a case investigated by Maryland Natural Resources Police.
William Carl Bartlett, 66, of Eastpoint, was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine, received three years of probation and was ordered to perform 300 hours of community service. U.S. Magistrate Judge William I. Garfinkel also prohibited Bartlett from entering any Maryland state park or forest.
Bartlett, a snake and reptile collector, pleaded guilty last December to two counts of illegally transporting protected wildlife. He is the fourth person prosecuted as part of “Operation Kingsnake,” an investigation spearheaded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service into individuals who trafficked hundreds of illegally collected snakes from 12 states and Canada.
Between April 29 and May 13, 2015, Bartlett took five Coastal Plain milk snakes from the Chesapeake Forest and the Pocomoke River State Forest in Worcester County, to a home he owned in Connecticut. The snakes were collected in violation of Maryland law.
In May 2016, Bartlett illegally collected four protected snakes and four lizards from the Pocomoke River State Forest, but was stopped by a Natural Resources Police investigator before he could take them to Connecticut.
Bartlett also was charged by federal agents with shipping by overnight courier 10 Outer Banks kingsnakes from Connecticut to a customer in Emporium, Pennsylvania in July 2012.
The incident began at about 9 a.m., when the officer boarded a 1982 Carver cabin cruiser that had been tied up overnight at Little Creek Landing in Chester and tried to find an occupant.
The officer heard a dog barking and then saw black smoke pouring from the back hatch and a port-side window. Fearing someone was aboard and incapacitated, the officer opened the back hatch while a bystander tried to open the port-side window.
The officer was able to grab the frightened dog, an older Chihuahua. She then used a fire extinguisher from her patrol truck to knock the flames down until Queen Anne’s County firefighters arrived to extinguish the fire.
An investigator from the State Fire Marshal’s Office said it appeared that a wake caused the boat to rock and knock over a kerosene heater, which ignited a rug.
The boat owner, Robert Black, 63, of Chester, told the officer he left his boat for about 10 minutes to run into town and left the kerosene on while he was gone.
Chelsea Geordan Werner, 27, was offered to sell a long-eared owl for $225 on Craigslist. During an exchange of text messages, Werner offered to sell an additional owl to an officer for a total of $470 and agreed to meet the officer at her apartment.
Two officers met with Werner and saw she had two long-eared owls and a barn owl. Werner said she had paid someone in Germany $200 apiece for the birds.
Werner was issued three citations, each carrying a pre-payable fine of $500.
A hearing date has not been set in Baltimore City District Court.
A man and woman from New York illegally camping in Patapsco Valley State Park were charged Tuesday in connection with burglary and damage at three state buildings.
Nathan Kane Stone, 28, of Ballston Spa, was arrested on charges of malicious destruction of state property, burglary and theft and possessing a weapon in a state park.
Katelyn Marie Dussault, 27, of Ballston Spa, received three citations for being in an area closed to the public, camping without a permit and possessing alcohol in a state park.
Officers investigating the report of a break-in and theft of a John Deere gator at the Hollofield area of the park found the pair and a six-month-old child camping in the park with camping gear stolen from the buildings.
Officers took Dussault and the child to a shelter.
Stone is scheduled to stand trial in Howard County District Court on May 1.