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Pennsylvania man charged with trafficking 3,400 turtles - Live5News.com | Charleston, SC | News, Weather, Sports

Pennsylvania man charged with trafficking 3,400 turtles

David Sommers, a former journalist, is said to have made more than $1 million trafficking the animals. (Source: WPVI/CNN) David Sommers, a former journalist, is said to have made more than $1 million trafficking the animals. (Source: WPVI/CNN)

LEVITTOWN, PA (WPVI/CNN) - Former newspaper reporter David Sommers appeared in federal court Wednesday to face charges related to trafficking turtles.

Prosecutors said he gathered diamondback terrapins and their eggs from the wild in coastal New Jersey.

He then allegedly sold the animals across North America, shipping some of them to Canada from his Pennsylvania home.

The turtles are prized in the pet industry because of the attractive diamond-shaped markings on their shells.

But they are protected both by New Jersey law and an international treaty.

Sommers, 62, allegedly started small and grew his trade to thousands of turtles.

"The indictment charges that in 2014, the defendant poached turtles from New Jersey and smuggled them into Canada," said District Attorney Joan Burne. "The indictment further charges hundreds of turtle sales during the course of 2017 and further charges 3,400 additional turtles intended for sale in 2017."

Experts said Sommers may have made more than $1 million by selling the turtles.

He is pleading not guilty.

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