Lewis Jackson Sr., 58, was sentenced to six months in prison by Chief United States District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood for unlawfully acquiring loggerhead sea turtle eggs in violation of the Lacey Act.
In addition to his prison sentence, Jackson was ordered to perform 156 hours of community service, an hour for each loggerhead sea turtle egg taken.
According to evidence presented during the guilty plea and sentencing hearings, Jackson took over 156 loggerhead sea turtle eggs from nests on Sapelo Island in May 2012. When seized from Jackson, the loggerhead eggs were packaged in a manner indicating they would be sold to others.
Loggerhead eggs fetch as much as $15 per egg on the black market.
"Loggerhead sea turtles are a national treasure that must be protected for our enjoyment and that of future generations," said U.S. Attorney Edward Tarver.
Among other things, the Lacey Act makes it unlawful for any person to acquire, receive, and transport loggerhead sea turtle eggs, as loggerheads are endangered species under federal law.
"This sentence sends a loud and clear message that the commercialization of Southeast Georgia coastal natural resources will not be tolerated," said Darwin Huggins of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement. "We take very seriously our mission to support our state counterpart wildlife enforcement agencies and we will continue to concentrate on and aggressively pursue individuals who are involved in the illegal trade of protected species of wildlife."