Two Florida men were sentenced on charges of conspiracy and trafficking in protected timber rattlesnakes and endangered Eastern indigo snakes on Friday, Dec. 5. A federal judge in Philadelphia sentenced Robroy MacInnes, 55, of Inverness, Florida, and Robert Keszey, 48, of Bushnell, Florida, to 18 months and 12 months in prison respectively for their role in trafficking in state and federally protected reptiles. MacInnes and Keszey co-owned a well-known reptile dealership, Glades Herp Farm Inc., based in Florida, and Keszey formerly hosted the Discovery Channel show “Swamp Brothers.” The defendants will also serve three years of supervised release. MacInees was also sentenced to pay a $4,000 fine and Keszy will pay a $2,000 fine.
Between 2006 and 2008, the defendants collected protected snakes from the wild in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, purchased protected eastern timber rattlesnakes that had been illegally collected from the wild in New York, and transported eastern indigo snakes, which are listed under the federal Endangered Species Act, from Florida to Pennsylvania. The evidence at trial showed that the protected rattlesnakes were destined for sale at reptile shows in Europe, where a single timber rattlesnake can sell for up to $800. The eastern indigos were intended for domestic sale where a single snake is worth up to $1,000. In addition to trafficking in illegal animals, the defendants attempted to persuade a witness not to provide the government with information regarding their illegal dealings.
The eastern timber rattlesnake is a species of venomous pit viper native to the eastern United States, and is listed as threatened in New York. It is also illegal to possess an eastern timber rattlesnake without a permit in Pennsylvania. The eastern indigo snake, the longest native North American snake species, is listed as threatened by both Florida and federal law.
Both MacInnes and Keszey were convicted on Nov. 15, 2013 after a jury trial in Philadelphia. The case was investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement, with assistance from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Patrick M. Duggan of the Environmental Crimes Section of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Kay Costello of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.