The owner of an exotic animal breeding business in Florida has been sentenced to five years probation for illegally selling a Capuchin monkey to singer Chris Brown.
The federal indictment does not name Brown, it only identifies the buyer as a celebrity in California, but key details coincide with an Associated Press report that wildlife agents seized the singer’s house monkey after serving a search warrant at his Los Angeles home. in early January 2018.
Brown was also identified in court Wednesday at a sentencing hearing in Florida for monkey breeder Jimmy Hammonds.
Wildlife agents moved after Brown shared a photo of the Capuchin monkey with millions of his followers on Instagram.
Prosecutors later dropped charges of possession of the monkey without permission after Brown agreed to lose his rights to Fiji and pay $ 35,000 (28,000 pounds) for caring for the monkey.
As for the monkey breeder, a federal judge in Tampa on Wednesday ordered Hammouths to pay a $ 90,000 fine (£ 72,000) to a fund run by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He also has to serve eight months of probation at home.
According to the indictment, Brown paid $ 12,650 (£ 10,000) to Hammond, who ran the Monkey Whisperer Ranch in Parish, Florida.
Under Florida and California law, it is illegal to transfer a Capuchin monkey without permission.
Hammans pleaded guilty to conspiracy and on three counts of violating the Endangered Species Act.
Prosecutors said he also illegally sold endangered cotton tamarins to buyers in Alabama, South Carolina and Wisconsin, trying to disguise the sale.
Prosecutors argued that Hammans deserved more than a year in prison, citing the need to deter others from committing similar crimes.
“In addition to licensed monkey breeding activities, Hammans often sold monkeys on the black market,” court documents said.
“Hammonds was involved in illegal business practices or schemes that involved repeated illegal behavior.”
Hamonds’s lawyer called him a “hard-working, law-abiding member of the community” who helped people fight alcohol dependence, and said none of the monkeys had been mistreated or had “negative effects” on ecosystems.