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Kenneth Cornelius Coleman Guilty in Stealing 310 Sea Turtle Eggs

Sea Turtle Egg Poaching

A Florida man pleaded guilty on Friday to one count of unlawfully transporting endangered sea turtle eggs. He could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The U.S. Attorney's Office reports that 52-year-old Kenneth Cornelius Coleman took 316 sea turtle eggs from nests in Juno Beach on July 3rd and 4th last year.

The poaching was discovered by employees at a sea turtle rescue center who found sea turtle nests had been disturbed near the beach crossover at 840 Ocean Drive in Juno Beach. They were able to rebury 219 eggs found in canvas bags on the beach. Another 97 eggs discovered by police the next day were also reburied.

Nearby, Juno Beach Police officers found a wooden stick and three canvas bags. DNA on the bag was found to match Coleman’s profile. He previously spent 30 months in jail for transporting endangered sea turtle eggs in 2010.

Experts from the Loggerhead Marine Life Center examined the eggs and found one of the disturbed areas was a green sea turtle nest, an endangered species. The other three nests disturbed were from loggerhead sea turtles, a threatened species.

Research by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service puts the value of endangered sea turtle eggs at $3 to $5, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. Based on those estimates, the Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach valued the 310 eggs Coleman confessed to stealing at between $948 and $1,580.

Coleman had been arrested Aug. 27, 2010, for stealing about 120 eggs from nests along Ocean Drive. He pleaded guilty in December 2010, and was sentenced to more than two years in prison in February 2011.

Police arrested him in August 2005 in Palm Beach Shores with 142 sea turtle eggs in a bag. The outcome of that case was not immediately clear Saturday.

No sentencing date has been announced on the latest charges.

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