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East Elmhurst Man Responsible for Missing Tortoise Sentenced to Six Months at Rikers

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Jan. 19, 2018 By Christian Murray

An East Elmhurst man was sentenced to six months jail after pleading guilty to possessing a tortoise that was stolen from an environmental center in Queens last year.

Shawn Waters, 37, of 103rd Street, pleaded guilty last month following the disappearance of a 17-year-old tortoise named Millenium (sic) that was taken from the Alley Pond Environmental Center in Douglaston on July 17, according to the Queens District Attorney’s office.

The rare reptile was found in Connecticut a week later.

“Millenium the tortoise’s summer escapade that included crossing state lines has drawn to a close with today’s sentencing of the defendant,” Queens DA Richard A. Brown said in a statement Thursday. “The rare reptile is safely ensconced in his habitat and now the defendant, who admitted to possessing the stolen tortoise, will be confined to Rikers Island for the next six months.”

The saga began when an employee at Alley Pond realized the 95-pound African spurred tortoise had disappeared and that there was a hole in the rear fence near the tortoise’s area.

Waters was caught after detectives traced him via a Craigslist ad.

A man from Stamford, Connecticut posted an ad on the site looking to sell a turtle. He later received a phone call from Waters who wanted to trade it for an African spurred tortoise for it.

The two met up on July 23 and the Connecticut man traded his turtle and $300 for Millenium.

The following day, the Connecticut man called the NYPD after learning that a African spurred tortoise had been stolen and a detective retrieved the reptile. An employee from the environmental center then gave a positive I.D. of the tortoise.

The phone call to the Connecticut man was linked to Waters.

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