Area man sentenced for falsely labeling shipment of wildlife as ‘toys’

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A Farmingdale resident has been sentenced to three years of probation, with six months of home confinement, for falsely labeling as “toys” a package containing 10 live rhinoceros iguanas that was destined for Hong Kong, U.S Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced on Jan. 25.

Jason Ksepka, 44, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Zahid Quraishi in Trenton federal court to an information charging him with one count of violating the Lacey Act by falsely labeling an international shipment of wildlife. Quraishi imposed the sentence on Jan. 25 by videoconference, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court, on Nov. 7, 2017, Ksepka shipped a package via U.S. Priority Mail Express from the U.S. Post Office in Lambertville.

The package contained 10 live rhinoceros iguanas and was destined for Hong Kong. Ksepka falsely described the contents of the package as “toys” and the sender as “Luke Jacobs” on a U.S. Postal Service International Shipping Label and Customs Form that accompanied the package.

On Nov. 8, 2017, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Inspectors intercepted the package at the mail facility at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and recovered the rhinoceros iguanas from inside the package.

Ksepka was paid $500 by an individual to falsely label the package and ship it to Hong Kong. One year prior to the shipment, the same individual had paid Ksepka $500 to ship 10 additional rhinoceros iguanas to Hong Kong.

According to the press release, in addition to probation, Quraishi ordered Ksepka to refrain from engaging in the “take” of wildlife (defined by law as harassing, harming, pursuing, hunting, shooting, wounding, trapping, capturing or collecting wildlife or attempting to engage in such conduct).

Ksepka was also ordered to refrain from the import, export, transport, sale, purchase or barter of any wildlife. Ksepka agreed, as part of his plea agreement, to pay a fine of $1,000 to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Lacey Act Reward Fund.

Sellinger credited special agents of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement, under the direction of Resident Agent in Charge Sean Mann, with the investigation leading to the guilty plea, according to the press release.