ALBANY — New York Attorney General Letitia James and state Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos on March 17 announced the conviction and sentencing of Joshua Seguine, 40, of the hamlet of LaGrangeville in Dutchess County.
Mr. Seguine pleaded guilty in the town of LaGrange Justice Court to illegal commercialization of fish, shellfish, crustaceans and wildlife for the illegal possession with intent to sell seven sandbar sharks, a protected species under New York law. He was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine and sentenced to a conditional discharge.
“The tide has turned for Joshua Seguine, who was convicted and held accountable for his unlawful acts,” Ms. James said in a news release. “Let this serve as a loud and clear message: We will not tolerate anyone who preys on protected species to line their pockets. My office will continue to enforce the laws that safeguard our wildlife, and we will hold accountable those who violate them.”
“I applaud the work of our environmental conservation police officers, who spearheaded the investigation that resulted in Joshua Seguine being brought to justice,” said Mr. Seggos. “It is critical that we work to protect endangered species that are taken from their natural habitats and sold for profit.”
Seguine first came to the attention of DEC law enforcement in July 2017, when he was arrested in Georgia by Department of Natural Resources Investigator John Evans for allegedly driving without a license and for possessing five undersized sharks in a large circular tank in the back of his truck.
He admitted that he was transporting the sharks to New York state, officials said, where he intended to sell them, and that he possessed additional live sharks at his house in New York.
After Investigator Evans sent this information to the DEC, investigators researched and discovered that Seguine — who was conducting business under the name Aquatic Apex Life LLC — had offered sharks for sale as recently as June 29, 2017, on a website.
Equipped with this information, DEC police obtained a warrant to search Seguine’s house in LaGrangeville. DEC officers — accompanied by biologists from the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead and the Wildlife Conservation Society’s New York Aquarium at Coney Island — conducted the search and discovered an above-ground pool in Seguine’s house that contained seven live sharks.
The sharks were subsequently identified as sandbar sharks, the possession of which is prohibited by New York law without a special license. The search also uncovered two dead leopard sharks, one dead hammerhead shark and the snout of a smalltooth sawfish (an endangered species).
Earlier this year, a report in the Journal Nature stated that many species of sharks are at the point of no return.