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Published: Sunday, 4/10/2005

Toledo man charged in illegal sale of amphibians

An East Toledo man was arraigned last week in Franklin County Common Pleas Court on two felony counts of illegally possessing and selling wild animals.

Joel Roggelin, 47, whose address was listed as 220 Morrison Drive, pleaded not guilty, Franklin County Clerk of Courts officials said. He was indicted last week in connection with the illegal sale of amphibians from the wild, a fifth-degree felony.

"We allege the animals were illegally obtained and then sold to officers acting in an undercover capacity," said Jim Quinlivan, law enforcement supervisor for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife.

If convicted, Mr. Roggelin could be fined $2,500 and sentenced to a year in prison for each offense. He is charged with violating a law that forbids the taking and selling of wild animals. State law allows exceptions, but there is no open season for amphibians.

The charges stem from a multistate investigation into the illegal sale of amphibians and reptiles that culminated in charges against more than two dozen people in June, 2003.

Mr. Roggelin has been convicted of misdemeanor charges in Franklin County Municipal Court stemming from the probe. Last month, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced that he was fined $8,750 and placed on two years probation after he pleaded no contest to 18 counts of the illegal purchase of protected species. Most wildlife violations are misdemeanors, Mr. Quinlivan said.

"Somebody selling one or two snakes or frogs illegally would be a misdemeanor, but when you get to a quantity that would equal $1,000, you're talking a dozen or several dozen, the penalties are more severe because the impact on the resource is more severe," he said.

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