First Day In Court For Adam Thatcher Lawrence, A NoCal Man Charged With Illegal Importation Of Leopard Parts

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A man who allegedly illegally hunted and killed a leopard in South Africa before trying to import its parts into the United States is scheduled to make his initial appearance in federal court in Oakland, CA, today, January 18, 2018.

Following a three-year investigation by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement, Adam Thatcher Lawrence was formally charged last Thursday with importing wildlife illegally, contrary to law, and mislabeling wildlife intended for importation.

As per a statement released by the  Department of Justice, the indictment claims that Lawrence, 38, of Willits, California, traveled to the Republic of South Africa in August 2011, where he hunted and killed the leopard.

Lawrence allegedly did not have the required permits to kill the leopard in South Africa or to bring the leopard back into the United States.

Lawrence allegedly secretly transported the leopard’s skin and skull into the Republic of Mozambique in May 2012, and thereafter, falsely claimed to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that he had hunted and killed the leopard in Mozambique in 2012.

He then allegedly applied for permit paperwork from Mozambique, South Africa, and the United States, in order to import the leopard skin and skull into the United States; each document falsely stated that the leopard was killed in Mozambique.

Leopards are a protected species under both the Endangered Species Act and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, an international treaty to which the United States, South Africa and Mozambique are signatories.

If convicted, Lawrence faces a maximum sentence of twenty years’ imprisonment and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and restitution.

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