NEW YORK (NEWS10) – New York Attorney General Letitia James and New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced on Wednesday they convicted and sentenced Joshua Seguine, 40, of LaGrangeville in Dutchess County.
Seguine pleaded guilty in the Town of LaGrange Justice Court to Illegal Commercialization of Fish, Shellfish, Crustaceans, and Wildlife for illegally possessing with intent to sell seven sandbar sharks, a protected species under New York law. Seguine was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine and sentenced to a conditional discharge.
“The tide has turned for Joshua Seguine, who was convicted and held accountable for his unlawful acts,” said Attorney General James. “Let this serve as a loud and clear message: We will not tolerate anyone who preys on protected species to line their pockets. My office will continue to enforce the laws that safeguard our wildlife, and we will hold accountable those who violate them.”
“It is critical that we work to protect endangered species that are taken from their natural habitats and sold for profit,” said DEC Commissioner Seggos.
Reports of Seguine’s actions were first brought up to DEC law enforcement in July 2017. At that time, he was arrested in Georgia by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for driving without a license and for possessing five undersized sharks in a large circular tank in the back of his truck. Seguine admitted that he was transporting the sharks to New York, where he intended to sell them, and that he possessed additional live sharks at his house in New York.
After the DNR sent this information to the DEC, investigators researched and discovered that Seguine, who was working under the name Aquatic Apex Life LLC, had offered sharks for sale on June 29, 2017 on the website MonsterFishKeepers.com.
Using this information, DEC police obtained a warrant to search Seguine’s house in LaGrangeville. DEC officers, accompanied by biologists from the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead and the Wildlife Conservation Society’s New York Aquarium at Coney Island, conducted the search and discovered an above-ground pool in Seguine’s house that contained seven live sharks.
The sharks were identified as sandbar sharks. Possession of sandbar sharks in New York is prohibited without a special license. The search also discovered two dead leopard sharks, one dead hammerhead shark, and the snout of a smalltooth sawfish (an endangered species).
Biologists from the two aquariums evaluated the sharks and transferred them to the Riverhead aquarium and the New York Aquarium at Coney Island.