COVINA >> Police are seeking a 50-pound tortoise stolen from a Covina backyard Friday.
The pet reptile — valued at about $450 — was reported missing about 9 p.m. in the 1500 block of East Adams Park Drive, Covina police Lt. Ric Walczak said.
Its owner arrived home to find the side gate leading to the backyard open and the tortoise gone, officials said.
LOS ANGELES >> A judge sentenced a San Gabriel man to two months in federal prison this week for trying to smuggle 46 turtles and tortoises to Hong Kong via the U.S. Postal Service last year, authorities said. Some of the animals died as a result of the failed scheme.
Kwong Wa Cheung, 36, was also sentenced to two years of supervised release following his prison sentence, two months of which will be served in a halfway house, U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement. U.S. District Judge John F. Walter also ordered Cheung to perform 500 hours of community service at an animal shelter and pay a $12,000 fine.
Cheung pleaded guilty in August to a felony county of mislabeling wildlife intended for foreign commerce, Assistant U.S. Attorney Dennis Mitchell said. Five additional felony counts initially filed against Cheung were dismissed.
On Aug. 13 at the San Gabriel Post Office, Cheung tried to ship three boxes containing 26 Eastern box turtles and 20 African spurred tortoises, officials said. Both species are protected and illegal to transport overseas by international treaty and federal law.
“Cheung used a fake name and address on the packages, and declared that the contents of the packages were ‘toys,’” according to the statement. Because Cheung used a false name, the postal service refused to ship the package, but also could not locate Cheung to return the packages.
Officials found the animals after at least one of them died and began to emit a strong odor, Mitchell said. It was not clear how many reptiles died as a result of the failed shipment.
Investigators ultimately identified Cheung as the person who tried to mail the reptiles, which had an estimated market value in Hong Kong of more than $10,000, Mitchell said.