An East Elmhurst man has been charged with possessing a tortoise that was stolen from an environmental center in Queens last month.
Shawn Waters, 36, was charged with criminal possession of a 17-year-old tortoise named Milennium, who was taken from the Alley Pond Environmental Center in Douglaston on July 17, according to the Queens District Attorney’s office.
“Abducted from his peaceful Queens habitat and transported across state lines to be traded, the man accused of brokering the deal is now being held accountable for his alleged actions,” Queens DA Richard Brown said in a statement.
A Craigslist ad spurred the investigation, when a seller from Stamford, Connecticut posted on the site that he was selling a turtle, and later received a phone call from a man who wanted to trade an African spurred tortoise for it.
The two allegedly met up on July 23, where the Connecticut man traded his turtle and $300 for Milennium.
The following day, an NYPD detective retrieved the tortoise from the Connecticut man. An employee from the environmental center then gave a positive I.D. for the tortoise.
The phone call to the Connecticut man was linked to Waters, who alleges that he received a photo of the tortoise after making several phone calls to different people that he was looking for one, and went to pick up the tortoise in Bayside after exchanging it for a snapping turtle.
The African spurred tortoise, estimated to be worth $2,500, was discovered missing at approximately 4:00 p.m. on July 16. A hole was found in the rear fence near the tortoise habitat.
If Waters is found guilty, he could face up to four years in prison, according to the Queens DA.