Logistics Company Owner Faces Prison for Trafficking “Exotic” Birds
Kenner, LA – The owner of a Louisiana freight forwarding company pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court to charges alleging he used his business to carry out a scheme to illegally traffic exotic birds.
Paul Tallman of Kenner, LA, owner of Aerotyme-Inc., admitted his role in a scheme with codefendant William McGinness to ship birds by truck from California to the Port of New Orleans for export to Taiwan.
This scheme sought to avoid a 2015 Taiwanese ban on the import of all California birds due to the risk of highly pathogenic avian flu.
The shipment contained 86 birds, including three falsely labeled macaws, according to court documents.
On Dec. 11, 2019, McGinness pleaded guilty to conspiracy to smuggle and make false statements.
Another codefendant, Rene Rizal, also pleaded guilty to a false statement charge.
According to plea agreements, McGinness had Tallman and Rizal create and certify false paperwork to facilitate the shipment of the birds from New Orleans.
McGinness trucked the birds from California to Aerotyme Inc. in Kenner, Louisiana, where he and Tallman submitted false paperwork, including a veterinary health certificate certifying that the birds were disease free, to agents of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Federal law enforcement officers seized 14 birds prior to export.
Additional codefendants Wayne Andrews, a bird breeder, and Alex Madriaga, a veterinarian, both from California, previously pleaded guilty to creating false documents to facilitate McGinness’ plan to transport the birds from California to Louisiana.
“This illegal scheme flouted federal and international laws meant to protect exotic birds from exploitation as well as international efforts to contain infectious disease,” said Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.
Andrews’ and Madriaga’s sentencings are scheduled for Jan. 15, 2020.
Rizal’s, McGinness’ and Tallman’s sentencings are scheduled for March 4, 2020.
The maximum sentence for Tallman is one year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
The maximum sentence for McGinness and Rizal is five years in prison, three years of post-release supervision, and a fine of up to $250,000.
Andrews and Madriaga face a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.