KANSAS CITY – A Kansas man pleaded guilty Wednesday to unlawfully importing endangered leopard cats, according to U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister.
The leopard cat is a small wild cat native to Asia. It is considered as an endangered species under federal law.
Lawrence E. Payne, 34, Olathe, Kan., pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Endangered Species Act. The investigation began when Payne applied to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a breeding license for Asian leopard cats. When investigators served a search warrant at Payne’s home, they found three Asian leopard cats. Payne admitted importing the animals.
Sentencing will be set for a later date. He faces a penalty of up to a year in jail and a fine up to $50,000. McAllister commended the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Oakley for their work on the case.