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Turtle investigation snags Corning man

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Turtle investigation snags Corning man

by Amy Theriac
Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

James Stout pleaded guilty to 10 counts of selling wildlife and four counts
of selling alligator snapping turtles Aug. 23 in Clay County Circuit Court,
and was fined $14,000.



Cpl. Brian Smith, an Arkansas Game and Fish Commission wildlife officer,
began his investigation of Stout in May 2003.

“He was buying and selling three-toed box turtles by the thousands,” Smith
said. “He would buy them illegally from other people in Arkansas and then
fraudulently indicate in records that the turtles were coming from Texas.”

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A trail of turtles finally has reached a Corning man’s doorstep.

It is illegal to sell three-toed box turtles in Arkansas without a permit.
Stout had an Arkansas permit to sell the turtles, but the turtles were
originally collected from the wild in Arkansas, which is illegal, and then
purchased by Stout. Stout falsified records by claiming the turtles were
collected in Texas legally with a nonresident small-game license.

Approximately 30 AGFC wildlife enforcement officers and a U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service officer took part in executing five search warrants in
three counties Sept. 16 to gather evidence on Stout’s illegal activities.

Smith said state and federal agencies had been wary of Stout for almost 20
years. “We strongly suspected that he was obtaining turtles from illegal
sources, but he dealt with very few people directly,” Stout said. “He
wouldn’t buy legal turtles from people he didn’t trust. This is what made
him so hard to catch.”

Five others were charged with violations related to Stout’s turtle scheme.

Marthetta Stout pleaded guilty to four counts of selling wildlife and a
misdemeanor possession of marijuana. She was fined $6,000.

Carl Banning pleaded guilty to felony possession of a defaced firearm and
was fined $1,000. Junior Glover pleaded guilty to eight counts of selling
wildlife and was fined $8,000. Jason Whitaker pleaded guilty to four counts
of selling wildlife and was fined $1,000. Buddy Grimes pleaded guilty to
four counts of selling alligator snapping turtles and was fined $1,000.

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Who is PARC?

Our membership comes from all walks of life and includes individuals from state and federal agencies, conservation organizations, museums, pet trade industry, nature centers, zoos, energy industry, universities, herpetological organizations, research laboratories, forest industries, and environmental consultants.