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Hogansburg woman pleads guilty to reptile smuggling

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A Hogansburg woman pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday morning to smuggling hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of alligators, tortoises and other reptiles into Canada for sale to retailers and collectors.

Olivia J. Terrance, 28, allegedly worked with a co-conspirator in Canada, Dennis Day, 38, of Cobden, Ontario, who was jointly indicted with her in August.

The U.S. case against Mr. Day has been put on hold until Canadian charges are resolved, Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig A. Benedict said. Sgt. Lee Côté of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said Wednesday that a case against Mr. Day is still pending in Ontario.

According to prosecutors, Mr. Day paid for reptiles to be shipped from Florida, Louisiana and California to Ms. Terrance at various addresses in Hogansburg. At least 17 such shipments arrived between June 2009 and July 2010, loaded with exotic creatures including American alligators, Chinese striped turtles, green iguanas, helmeted chameleons and Timor tree monitor lizards.

The exportation of such species requires a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Prosecutors said Ms. Terrance arranged to transport the reptiles across the border to Mr. Day without permits.

Ms. Terrance was arrested on Aug. 4, 2010, after law enforcement agents followed her by car and helicopter after she received a shipment of wildlife and transported boxes of reptiles by boat across the St. Lawrence River into Canada, prosecutors said.

Ms. Terrance entered her plea before federal Judge Norman A. Mordue in U.S. District Court, Syracuse. She faces a maximum possible penalty of five years in jail and a $250,000 fine, followed by three years of supervised release and a $100 special assessment, when sentenced on Aug. 5.

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