Bay Area pastor sentenced for catching, selling leopard sharks

San Francisco (AP) — The pastor of a Bay Area church was sentenced to one year in prison for illegally catching and selling hundreds of juvenile leopard sharks in the United States and abroad, authorities said.

Kevin Thompson, 48, pastor of the Bay Area Family Church in San Leandro, was sentenced and ordered to pay $100,000 restitution Monday, according to U.S. District Attorney Kevin V. Ryan in San Francisco.

Thompson and five other Californians were indicted and arrested in February for selling 465 leopard sharks that were too small to harvest to pet distributors in Miami; Chicago; Houston; Romulous, Mich.; Milford, Conn.; the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, Ryan said.

Two of the defendants have been sentenced, and three others are set to be sentenced next month.

California leopard sharks, which can take 13 years to reach maturity and live as long as 30 years, are protected under a state law that prohibits the commercial catching of specimens under 36 inches long.

The indictment alleged that federal wildlife agents seized leopard sharks ranging from 8 1/2-inches to 17 1/2-inches in length, prosecutors said.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday January 24, 2007.
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