New Jersey man pleads guilty to smuggling box turtles from Oklahoma

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 11: A turtle sits in an aquarium at a pet store on August 11, 2014 in San Francisco, California. San Francisco Bay Area animal shelters and humane society leaders are reminding the public of the level of commitment it takes to own a turtle as they brace for a surge in sales of turtles following the box office success of the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. Many turtles are often neglected and end up released into the wild or dropped off at animal shelters. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Federal prosecutors say a New Jersey man has pleaded guilty to smuggling more than 1,000 box turtles that were illegally collected in Oklahoma.

Court records show 26-year-old William T. Gangemi of Freehold, New Jersey, was accused of violating a federal law against the sale or purchase of illegally collected wildlife with a market value over $350.

Gangemi was allegedly part of a syndicate of wildlife smugglers involved in the purchase and transportation of three-toed and western box turtles from Oklahoma to New Jersey. The collection of both types of turtles for commercial purposes is illegal in Oklahoma.

Prosecutors say Gangemi pleaded guilty Wednesday and will be sentenced on Jan. 27. Records show Gangemi was sentenced to two years’ probation in June after pleading guilty to similar charges in South Carolina.

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