This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
U.S. officials have returned to Brazil the seven surviving offspring of a rare snake that had been imported illegally into Utah.
The boa constrictors returned to the South American country were offspring of a rare and valuable white boa constrictor known as a leucistic snake that was called "Lucy" or "Diamond Princess."
A federal grand jury in January 2014 indicted Jeremy Stone of Lindon and sister Keri Ann Stone on four charges related to importing the snake and falsely documenting its origin, in violation of the Endangered Species Act.
The Stones were accused of illegally buying the boa constrictor from a zoo in Rio de Janeiro, paying thousands of dollars between 2007 and 2009. According to the indictment, Jeremy Stone knew the boa was caught in the wild and forbidden from export by Brazilian law.
Jeremy Stone pleaded guilty in August of last year to a misdemeanor count of unlawful transport of wildlife. U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups placed him on probation for a year.
"The illegal wildlife trade threatens the survival of many threatened and endangered species, and Mr. Stone's conviction in this case demonstrates our resolve to prosecute those who engage in such activities," U.S. Attorney for Utah John Huber said in a news release.
Keri Stone entered a diversion agreement that defers prosecution if she doesn't have future violations.
After the discovery of the missing snake, Brazilian officials asked that it be returned. The snake died but left behind offspring that were the subject of a court battle between, Jeremy Stone's wife, Kara Stone, who claimed an interest in them, and the governments of the U.S. and Brazil. Kara Stone agreed to drop her claims in February, clearing the way for the snakes to be flown to Brazil.
In 2006 Brazilian military firefighters found the rare leucitic boa constrictor in wild jungle in the state of Rio de Janeiro. Leucism is a rare condition that produces a white skin coloring, and such snakes produce offspring known as "morph snakes," Brazil said in a petition seeking return of the snake.
The snake was housed at the Niteroi Zoo in Rio de Janeiro until 2009, when Jeremy Stone illegally purchased it from the zoo administrator, the petition alleged.
Jeremy and Keri Stone took the snake to Guyana and a vet there provided a false certificate of origin, claiming the snake was caught in Guyana, which allowed the Stones to ship it with clearance from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the indictment alleged.
Jeremy Stone then bred the snake with other boa constrictors at his business and sold offspring for tens of thousands of dollars in the United States and abroad, according to the indictment.