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    City Prosecutor Reeves Files Criminal Charges In Death Of More Than 400 Terns

    Tern charges April 19/07(April 20, 2007) -- Multiple media outlets filled a City Hall conference room on April 19 as City Prosecutor Tom Reeves, flanked by representatives from CA's Dept. of Fish & Game, announced the filing of criminal charges against a San Diego firm and three individuals all allegedly involved in the deaths of more than 400 terns in June 2006.

    In a release, the City Prosecutor's office said a lengthy CA Dept. of Fish & Game investigation determined "that the terns drowned in June 2006 after two of the defendants boarded the barge on which the terns were located."

    Tern charges April 19/07City Prosecutor Reeves said the alleged actions of the defendants contributed to the deaths of more than 400 birds -- whose lifeless bodies washed ashore in LB last summer -- and said "the charges reflect the significant impact these acts had on a vulnerable species."

    The seven-count complaint, filed April 18 by Deputy City Prosecutor John Fentis, alleges Point Loma Maritime Services, Inc., Ralph Boticelli III, Alan Schlange and Scott Caslin violated CA Fish & Game Code section 2000, 12000(a), 3503 and 3513 and Penal Code sections 597(a) and (b) for allegedly removing removing, harassing and causing the deaths of the terns and destroying several nests.

    The complaint doesn't cite details of the actions alleged and participants in the press event deferred discussion of specifics until the forthcoming court proceedings.

    CA Dept. of Fish & Game Director Ryan Broddrick said in the release that his agency "is gratified the City Prosecutor is moving this very important case forward..."Tern charges Apruil 19/07
    File photo displayed at City Prosecutor/Dept. Fish & Game press conference

    Tern charges Apruil 19/07
    File photo displayed at City Prosecutor/Dept. Fish & Game press conference
    "...In bringing charges...the City of Long Beach underscores its understanding of the devastating impact of wildlife crimes and an appreciation for the excellent and complicated investigation undertaken by Fish and Game wardens and biologists who protect our state's natural resources."

    The City Prosecutor's release that said according to the CA Dept. of Fish and Game, the tern death count [release text] "amounted to the failure of one of the world's only nesting colonies for this species, virtually wiping out an entire generation of elegant terns."

    Penal Code section 597(a) carries a potential sentence of imprisonment in the state prison, or a fine of up to $20,000, or both the fine and imprisonment, or alternatively by imprisonment in a county jail for up to a year, or a fine of up to $20,000, or the fine and imprisonment.

    Penal Code section 597(b) could be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony, with or without a fine of up to $20,000. The charges alleged in this case are misdemeanors, the extent of the LB City Prosecutor's jurisdiction.

    Efforts by to contact the firm named in the complaint and defendant Boticelli reached an answering device/phone mail.

    As in all criminal matters, the City Prosecutor's office has the burden of proving each and every element of each offense charged against a defendant beyond a reasonable doubt.

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