Category Archives: Alligators

Inmate Charged with Feeding Pet Iguana to an Alligator

RIP Mojo the Iguana

I didn’t know this, but apparently the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office has a small animal farm at their facility on Stock Key in the Florida Keys, where about 150 animals reside. Inmates at the adjacent jail facility can get details at the zoo, helping to care for the animals, though apparently feeding the reptiles is not one of the inmate duties. The animal farm has become an attraction on the island, where it is open for free to the public twice per month and for special occasions and is popular with local families.

Jason Gibson

Inmate Jason Gibson was an inmate at the jail, and landed a detail working at the animal farm. That is, he worked there until he tossed an iguana named “Mojo” into the gator enclosure, where an alligator killed it. It was particularly distressing for those who worked at the farm, as Mojo had been a resident there for at least 13 years, and was considered more of a pet. The inmates who spoke to police were reportedly heartbroken. Gibson admitted to the deed, as well as another iguana a few weeks earlier. Gibson is facing two felony animal cruelty charges, in addition to the vehicular theft charge that landed him in custody in the first place. Crimcourts continues to keep you up date on all alligator related criminal law!

FWC Breaks up a Turtle Trafficking Ring

Michael Boesenberg

Two Fort Myers men are charged in a turtle trafficking ring that may have netted tens of thousands of dollars. It’s the largest turtle theft bust in Florida history, and the turtles recovered had a black market value of $200,000. FWC alleges that Michael Clemons and Michael Boesenberg were selling wild-caught turtles to overseas interests for money and sometimes for marijuana.

Some of the rescued turtles

Michael Clemons

It’s important to police wildlife violations to protect the fauna of Florida. FWC says Lee County was hardest hit, and that local turtle populations may be substantially affected. The good news is that more than 600 turtles were rescued and returned to the wild.

FWC indicates this bust was related to the Gator in Yoga Pants bust with turtles in a Ninja Turtle backpack arrest from a few months back. FWC has more details on the concerns of wildlife trafficking.

Woman who had a Gator in her Yoga Pants Sentenced

Ariel Marchan-Le Quire

A few weeks ago, we brought you the story of a Fort Myers woman who tried to hide an illegally taken alligator by stuffing it down her yoga pants. She also had several dozen turtles stuffed in a Ninja Turtles backpack. This week in Charlotte County Court, she entered a plea and was sentenced to 2 years of probation for several wildlife violations. She will also have to complete 200 community service hours and make a $500 donation to FWC’s Wildlife Alert fund. The money may be a challenge, as records indicate she is homeless. She missed her first court date and spent a little time in jail, probably because she couldn’t afford to bond out. Still, it’s important for wildlife protections to follow regulations on fishing or collecting wildlife.

Let this also serve as a reminder, as always, the ‘not my pants’ defense is not a strong claim.

The alligator, after pants-removal

Earlier coverage.

Yoga Pants are not an Efficient Way to Smuggle An Alligator

Is that a gator in your pants, or are you just happy to see me?

A couple in Charlotte County were pulled over when they failed to come to a complete stop at a stop sign in the wee hours of the morning. The deputy gave them a warning for the sign and asked where they were coming from. They told him they’d been collecting frogs and snakes. The deputy then asked them if he could see what they caught, to make sure they were complying with the rules. The woman opened a backpack to reveal 42 small turtles; one softshell and the rest three-striped mud turtles. The deputy then asked her if she had anything else, and she pulled a foot long alligator out of her yoga pants!

The deputy called in FWC to take over the wildlife investigation. The driver and passenger were cited for possessing protected species and for a bag-limit violation and released. The animals were returned to the wild.

It might seem silly, but wildlife management is key to protecting the flora and fauna of our habitat. These guys don’t seem like pros, but there is a black market for some protected animals. Just a couple years ago, an alleged alligator poaching ring was busted up, recovering 10,000 gator eggs. Investigators created a fake alligator farm as part of the sting operation! One of those defendants has been sentenced to three years in prison for racketeering and other wildlife related offenses. Know the rules before you fish… or collect reptiles! (Some people call reptile and/or snake collecting “herping“… now you know.)

photos via CCSO

Yoga pants do not seem like the best place to stash a gator… or any wildlife, for that matter.

Croc-wearing Crocodile Jumper Florida Man gets a Year in Jail

Brandon HatfieldCredit: SJSO

Brandon Hatfield: Crocodile Jumper

We introduced you to Brandon Hatfield a few months ago– the croc-wearing guy who jumped into a crocodile pit at a St. Augustine alligator park, and got bitten, was arrested after he was found almost-naked in a lady’s front yard. He got brandon hatfield footsentenced last week, and he got dinged pretty good. Hatfield was sentenced to a year in jail, followed by 2 years of community control (similar to house arrest), in addition to being ordered to pay over $5000 in restitution for the damage he caused. He was charged with trespass and criminal mischief for the alligator park escapade, but he was already on probation for something else, which is probably why he got so much time in jail.

No animals were injured, but Hatfield nearly lost his foot after the incident. Apparently the whole escapade was due to his drug use, so hopefully this will serve as a wake-up call and he will get help for his substance-abuse issues. Court image via Beth Rousseau:

 

And in case you didn’t see the video, here’s a clip with highlights:

It’s Illegal to Hold Someone Hostage with an Alligator

isaias garcias

Isaias Garcia

As the leading authority on Alligator related laws, I have to say this is something that I would not have thought needed explanation. It’s not really an alligator-specific law… it’s pretty much unlawful anywhere to restrain someone through the threat of harm. This week a Texas man plead guilty to one count of unlawful restraint after he allegedly made a ransom claim for $800 in an alleged kidnapping in Connecticut. When the victim contacted his aunt, he asked for the money to be set free, then sent a proof of life photo: which featured the victim lying in a bathtub, with a 3-foot alligator sitting on top of him.

Police traced the ransom call to a hotel room, and there they found the defendant’s girlfriend and the aforementioned crocodilian. However, the Defendant and alleged victim were nowhere to be found at that time. Police ended up charging Garcia with kidnapping, larceny by extortion, and unlawful restraint.

However, the facts of the case started showing flaws. “Our investigation developed information that contradicted the original statement of facts,” Garcia’s lawyer, Senior Assistant Public Defender Jonathan Demirjian, told the judge. For instance, after the ransom call… the phone was used to order some Chinese food. Prosecutors eventually agreed to let Garcia plea to the lesser count of unlawful restraint. He will be sentenced in March. Still, let this be a reminder, don’t threaten people with alligators.

Apparently the gator was rescued, unharmed.

Florida Man Jumps in Crocodile Pit, Wearing Crocs, gets Bit by Croc

Brandon HatfieldCredit: SJSO

Brandon Hatfield

It’s not exactly clear what happened to his shirt, but the video shows he had removed it and jumped in the crocodile enclosure at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm. Employees a the Farm first became concerned when they found the Crocs the next morning. At first, they thought it was a joke, until they saw the blood. When they called police, the cops already had an idea of who had been bitten. Police had located Brandon Hatfield around 7 am when they got a call that a man in boxers was crawling through a woman’s yard,a nd hiding in the bushes. Hatfield has been charged with burglary, criminal mischief, and a violation of probation. He was apparently bitten on the leg, but was able to escape the crocodile enclosure. On the other side of the fence is the main alligator lagoon, which contains hundreds of full grown gators (It looks like the croc enclosure has juveniles– lucky for Hatfield).

 

Here’s a video from Inside Edition: