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  • Writer's pictureRobin Lyons

Zoo Thief

Zoos largely rely on government grants, charitable donations, and visitor revenue to support all that goes into the operation of a zoo.

It came as a surprise when everyone learned that over an eight-year period, one of the zoo biologists had been stealing money for personal use. He’d worked for the zoo for 17 years. You’d think a Director of Behavioral Biology working for the zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research would be more concerned about the animal’s welfare.

Like other embezzlement crimes, the biologists created fake invoices to bogus businesses payable to accounts he controlled. He also worked with third parties who invoiced the zoo then kicked back the bulk of the money they invoiced to the biologist.

The FBI Special Agent in Charge said, “When an employee is elevated to a position of leadership, it is a sign of that company’s trust in the integrity and honesty of that person.”

After his arrest, the biologist pleaded guilty. The court sentenced him to six months in prison, 3 years of supervised release, and ordered him to pay over $$230,000 in restitution.

A few requirements of his supervised release are:

· The defendant must not commit another federal, state, or local crime.

· The defendant must live at a place approved by their probation officer.

· The probation officer is allowed to visit the defendant anytime, anywhere.

· The defendant must work full time.

Because the biologist is a United Kingdom citizen, after serving his sentence the U.S. will likely deport him.

Source: U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. District Court

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