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Lizard Smuggler gets 15 months....
#1
Lizard Smuggler Gets 15 Months Behind Bars After Being Caught At LAX
(CNS) July 6, 2011


A Lomita man was sentenced today to 15 months behind bars for attempting to smuggle 15 live lizards from Australia through customs at Los Angeles International Airport by strapping the reptiles to his chest.

Michael J. Plank, 42, the owner and operator of a Lomita company dealing in reptiles, pleaded guilty a year ago in Los Angeles federal court to a charge of smuggling wildlife into the United States.

Plank said he was driven by love of the reptiles rather than the $23,500 he could have earned by selling the prohibited lizards to other collectors.

"Since the first lizard I caught as a child ... I've had an affection for these reptiles," Plank said, adding that his passion for the creatures "has led me to where I am."

Along with the prison term, U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright II ordered Plank to pay a $2,000 fine and serve three years under supervised release after he is released from federal custody.

"By doing what he's doing, he may very well be endangering the environment and these animals," Wright said.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Plank was returning from Australia in November 2009 when U.S. Customs agents found two geckos, two monitor lizards and 11 skinks stuffed into a money belt he was wearing.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Dennis Mitchell said the skinks were pregnant and seven offspring have subsequently been born.

The confiscated reptiles are at the San Diego Zoo.

All Australian reptiles are strictly regulated, and Plank did not have a permit for the lizards.

In arguing for probation, defense attorney Larry M. Bakman said Plank suffered from an obsessive-compulsive disorder that led to the smuggling attempt and fueled his deeply rooted interest in the reptile trade.

"You have to understand how obsessive these people are ... they're in another category," Bakman said. "They are obsessive-compulsive addicts ... (some) have mortgaged their homes to get in on a project involving albino boas."

Wright rejected the argument for a sentence of home detention, saying he would not allow the defendant to "stay home for a while and watch Oprah."

Wright said Plank made a dozen trips to Australia over three years, ostensibly to "capture these things in the wild' and smuggle the reptiles into the United States.

During an interview with investigators, Plank admitted smuggling lizards twice before using the money belt, according to court papers.
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#2
Can't say he's wrong, I knew some of the guys mortgaging their homes for the first albino boa buy ins. The snows were worse. It is infact an addiction. If you can get addicted to the internet or porn why not collecting herps. I cant say 15 months in jail wouldnt be worth a group of thorny devils...........

Michael
Everyday I meet someone I dislike, are you today's pick? If you dislike me it's because somethings wrong with you!

Don't Be A Hybridiot!
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#3
and I'm sure he's smuggled lots of stuff before getting caught this time....

Roll those dice !
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"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana".
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