Dec. 8, 2017 By Tara Law
An East Elmhurst man pleaded guilty yesterday to stealing a 95-pound tortoise from a Queens environmental center in July, according to the Queens District Attorney’s office.
The 17-year-old African-spurred tortoise named Millenium (sic) disappeared from Alley Pond Environmental Center in Douglaston and was found in Connecticut a week later.
Shawn Waters, 37, pleaded guilty Thursday to fifth degree criminal possession of stolen property.
Queens Criminal Court Judge Gia Morris indicated that she would sentence Waters to six months in jail on Jan. 16, according to prosecutors.
Environmental center staffers realized that the tortoise, valued at about $2,500, was missing at around 4 p.m on July 16, according to the charges. Staffers then discovered a hole at the rear fence by the tortoise habitat.
The investigation uncovered that a Stamford, Conn. man had placed an ad on Craigslist offering to sell a musk turtle. A day later, he received a phone call from a man who offered to trade an African Spurred tortoise for the musk turtle.
The Connecticut man met the caller on July 23 at the Metro North train station in Fairfield. He gave the man the turtle and $300 in exchange for the tortoise.
Soon after, the Connecticut man learned through news reports that Millenium had gone missing. He turned the tortoise in to the NYPD on July 24. A staff member from the environmental center identified the tortoise and brought it home.
The police traced the phone call between the two men to Waters. Waters allegedly confessed to a NYPD detective that he had arranged the trade for the turtle