By Martha Rose Brown
The 33-year-old Holly Hill man charged with violating federal laws prohibiting the possession and sale of specific endangered species of animals is also now facing multiple state charges in connection with the case.
Steven Baker, nicknamed “Turtle Man,” was arrested Aug. 1 at his Brelands Road residence near the Boyer community for allegedly violating the federal Lacey Act. The arrest followed a year-long, multi-agency undercover operation led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
He has since been released from jail on an unsecured $25,000 bond.
S.C. Department of Natural Resources Region 3 Capt. Robert McCullough reported that on Aug. 6, his agency charged Baker with two counts of unlawful possession of spotted turtles, two counts of unlawful possession of diamondback terrapins and one count of unlawful possession of an American alligator.
Each charge carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a maximum fine of $1,000, McCullough said. If convicted on all the state counts, Baker could be sentenced to five years in prison and fined $5,000.
If convicted on the federal charges, Baker could face a maximum of five years in federal prison and a $20,000 fine.
When federal, state and local law enforcement officers raided Baker’s residence last week, he was served with a federal warrant and numerous animals found in his residence and outside on his property were confiscated by Orangeburg County Animal Control officers and other agents. More....