Man gets 20 days for selling exotic reptile

An Occoquan man who was charged with selling an illegal exotic reptile in August has recently been sentenced to serve 20 days in jail.

Sean W. Hammond, 21, was sentenced Sept. 11 in Prince William General District Court to serve 20 days of a 180-day jail sentence for selling wild game, a misdemeanor.

Hammond was initially charged with selling illegal wildlife for more than $200, a Class 6 felony, after authorities seized a caiman, an exotic crocodilian reptile, from his home in August.

The charge was amended to a misdemeanor as a result of a plea agreement with prosecutors.

According to a search warrant filed in Prince William Circuit Court, Virginia Conservation Officer Mark DiLuigi of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries seized a caiman, its tank, light and other aquarium items from Hammond’s residence at 448 Overlook Drive in Occoquan on Aug. 8.

Caimans are native to Central and South America and can grow to three or four feet in length, according to the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Web site.

Authorities were alerted by a complaint made Aug. 8 regarding a listing on the Web site advertising the reptile for sale, according to the search warrant.

DiLuigi called the number in the advertisement, according to the search warrant, and a man answered who identified himself as “John.”

DiLuigi and John agreed to meet, and at 3:50 p.m. Aug. 8, a plain-clothed DiLuigi met John at a parking lot in Occoquan, according to the search warrant affidavit.

DiLuigi was then invited to John’s home on Overlook Drive to see the reptile, according to the search warrant affidavit.

The caiman was in an aquarium in a bedroom in the home, according to the search warrant affidavit.

John told DiLuigi he would accept $425 cash for the caiman, its tank and light, according to the affidavit.

DiLuigi expressed interested in purchasing the caiman, according to the affidavit, and returned Aug. 9.

“John,” identified as Hammond, was then arrested and charged with possessing and selling illegal wildlife, according to court records.

The caiman was in custody of the Virginia Game Department pending the court hearing, DiLuigi said.

DiLuigi said the Game Department has made arrangements to give the reptile to a person in the state who has the required permits to possess exotic wildlife. He said the reptile will be used for exhibitions and educational purposes.

DiLuigi said certain institutions and businesses, such as small zoos and wildlife parks, can apply to the Game Department to obtain permits to possess illegal wildlife, but the application is not available to individual citizens.