The man who stole a 17-year-old tortoise named Millennium from the Alley Pond Environmental Center (APEC) in Douglaston has pleaded guilty and will likely face jail time, the Queens DA announced last Thursday.
Shawn Waters, 37, of East Elmhurst, pleaded guilty to fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property. He will likely be sentenced to six months in jail on Rikers Island, Queens DA Richard Brown said.
Millennium, a 95-pound African spurred tortoise valued at $2,500, made headlines in July after an APEC employee noticed he was missing from his habitat on July 16. Staffers noted a hole in the rear fence at the time of Millennium’s disappearance.
After swiping Millennium, Waters responded to a Craigslist ad posted by a man from Stamford, Connecticut, who was looking to sell a musk tortoise. Waters called the man on his cell phone, offering to trade an African spurred tortoise—Millennium—in exchange for the musk tortoise. The trade was made at a Fairfield Metro North train station. Waters received the musk tortoise as well as $300.
The Connecticut man began seeing news reports of Millennium’s disappearance and contacted authorities. The NYPD’s 111th Detective Squad recovered the tortoise on July 24.
“Millenium the tortoise is safely back within the confines of his habitat at APEC and the person responsible for the illegal summertime travel across state lines will also be confined—to Rikers Island,” Brown said….Let this be a warning that my office will pursue justice for all those in Queens County—including rare tortoises.”