Attorney General James And DEC Commissioner Seggos Take Down Alleged Illegal Shark Trafficker In Dutchess County 

Albany, New York, USA at the New York State Capitol
Albany, New York, USA at the New York State Capitol
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Joshua Seguine Allegedly Kept Live Sharks in an 18-Foot Pool Inside His House and Offered Them for Sale on the Internet  

DUTCHESS COUNTY — Attorney General Letitia James and Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced the arrest of Joshua Seguine, age 38, of the Hamlet of LaGrangeville in Dutchess County. Seguine is charged in the Town of LaGrange Justice Court with the Illegal Commercialization of Fish, Shellfish, Crustaceans, and Wildlife (Environmental Conservation Law 71-0924(2)) for the alleged illegal possession with intent to sell seven Sandbar Sharks (Carcharhinus plumbeus), a protected species under New York law.  

“The trafficking of protected species is both unlawful and harmful to these vulnerable creatures,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “This individual is charged with knowingly putting these endangered species in harm’s way in an effort to line his own pockets. My office will continue to enforce the laws that safeguard our wildlife and hold accountable those who seek to violate them.”   

“Harboring and selling protected species for one’s personal financial gain is not only illegal, it’s immoral. I applaud the work of DEC’s Bureau of Environmental Crimes, Environmental Conservation Police Officers, and Division of Marine Resources for the investigation that brought these crimes to light and the work of the Attorney General’s office that is bringing this individual to justice,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos

According to the felony complaint and statements made by the prosecutor at arraignment, Seguine came to the attention of DEC Law Enforcement in July of 2017, after he was allegedly found in possession of five undersized sharks in the back of his truck. According to authorities, Seguine admitted that he was transporting the sharks to New York State, where he intended to sell them, and that he possessed additional live sharks at his house in New York.  After this information was sent to DEC, investigators discovered that Seguine was allegedly conducting business under the name Aquatic Apex Life LLC, which had offered sharks for sale as recently as June 29, 2017 on the website MonsterFishKeepers.com.   

Using this information, DEC police obtained a warrant to search Seguine’s house in LaGrangeville. DEC officers, accompanied by biologists from the Long Island Aquarium located in Riverhead, New York, and the Wildlife Conservation Society’s New York Aquarium located in Coney Island, allegedly discovered an above-ground pool at Seguine’s house that contained seven live sharks. The sharks were subsequently identified as Sandbar Sharks, the possession of which is prohibited by New York law without a special license. The search also uncovered two dead Leopard Sharks, one dead Hammerhead Shark, and the rostrum (snout) of a Smalltooth Sawfish, an endangered species.  

Biologists from the two aquariums assessed the sharks and then transferred them to the Riverhead facility. The sharks were subsequently moved to the New York Aquarium in Coney Island. The cost to legally acquire a Sandbar Shark is approximately $11,500.    

The defendant was arraigned yesterday in the Town of LaGrange Justice Court and released under the supervision of probation. His next court date is scheduled for April 16, 2019.   

The charges are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law. 

The DEC investigation was led by Environmental Crimes Investigator Jeffrey Conway and Environmental Conservation Officer Deo W. Read, under the supervision of Lt. Nick Desotelle, Lt. Mike Buckley, Captain Martin Townley, and Major Scott Florence of the DEC’s Division of Law Enforcement.  

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Hugh L. McLean of the Attorney General’s Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau’s Environmental Crimes Unit. The Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau is led by Bureau Chief Stephanie Swenton and Deputy Bureau Chief Joseph D’Arrigo. The Division of Criminal Justice is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice José Maldonado.