Malaclemys terrapin

 David Sommers, 64, of Levittown, Pennsylvania, was sentenced in August 2019 to six months imprisonment and to pay $250,000 in restitution for trafficking protected turtles in U.S. District Court.

Authorities said Sommers represented himself as a legitimate reptile breeder, when he was in fact endangering the lives of these animals and breaking the law..

From November 2011 until October 2017, Sommers poached thousands of protected diamondback terrapins and their eggs from coastal marshes in New Jersey and illegally sold the turtles. A grand jury indicted Sommers on July 10, 2018 for his criminal conduct involving the sale, export and false-labeling of packages containing protected diamondback terrapins. On Feb. 4, 2019, Sommers pleaded guilty to false-labeling of packages containing protected diamondback terrapins.

Diamondback terrapins (Malaclemys terrapin) are a semi-aquatic species of turtle native to brackish waters in eastern and southern United States. They are not found in the wild in Pennsylvania, where Sommers resided, but have a dwindling habitat range in neighboring New Jersey. The terrapins are prized in the reptile pet trade for their unique, diamond-shaped shell markings. The turtles are protected under New Jersey law and by an international treaty, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).