MERIDEN — A local man pleaded guilty to illegally possessing several venomous snakes last year.
Cameron DeFrances, 22, of 22 Westfield Road, was originally charged with nine counts of illegal possession of a Category Two wild animal and first-degree reckless endangerment after state Environmental Conservation Police searched his residence and found several live and deceased snakes. He was charged following the search in April 2018.
On Friday DeFrances pleaded guilty in Meriden Superior Court to one misdemeanor count of illegal possession of an animal without a permit. He was sentenced to 90 days in prison, fully suspended and one year conditional discharge. Under the conditional discharge, he is not allowed to keep unlicensed animals.
The investigation began when an advertisement for the sale of snakes was brought to the attention of the authorities by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Further investigation found social media posts listing the snakes for sale with photographs.
Conservation police executed a search warrant with the assistance of Meriden police. A qualified licensed reptile specialist assisted in the recovery of the snakes, which included a gaboon viper, a forest cobra, two Egyptian banded cobras and two monocled cobras. Authorities also found a deceased tree viper and king cobra. The live animals were transported to a secure reptile facility.
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