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Chestertown man pleads guilty to trafficking turtles

BUFFALO, N.Y. — A Maryland man has pleaded guilty in a turtle trafficking case in New York.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Buffalo says 57-year-old Michael Johnson of Chestertown ran a turtle meat processing facility in Millington in 2007 and 2008, at times buying common snapping turtles for their meat from individuals in various states.

Prosecutors say he twice purchased turtles from undercover conservation officers in New York state, where the turtles are a protected species.

Johnson faces up to a year in jail after pleading guilty Tuesday to attempted trafficking in prohibited wildlife.

Besides pleading guilty, prosecutors say Johnson has donated $7,500 to the Buffalo Zoo, $5,000 to the Tifft Nature Preserve in Buffalo and $7,500 to Teatown Lake Reservation in Westchester County, all for turtle research and education.