Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Monkey Theft Nets Prison Sentence

monkey theftOne of two men accused of stealing two exotic monkeys from a Somerset Township wildlife center in November will serve at least 2 years in a state prison.

Michael Anthony Naylor, 19, of 109 Millsboro Road, Rices Landing, was sentenced Monday to 2 to 5 years in prison by Washington County Judge John DiSalle. Naylor pleaded guilty in April to two counts of burglary and one count each of criminal trespass and criminal conspiracy.

Naylor was arrested after he and his alleged accomplice, Steven Christopher Labore, 18, of First Street, Vestaburg, broke into a climate-controlled greenhouse at Grant Kemmerer's Wild World of Animals wildlife company in Somerset Township on Nov. 5 and stole a spot-nosed Guenon monkey and a Mona Guenon monkey from their cages. The primates and other animals are used in educational programs across the country.

The men are accused of taking the monkeys to another location and returning later to get a third monkey. The third monkey reportedly escaped from the men's grasp.

The other two monkeys were returned to Kemmerer after the theft received much media attention.

Lisa Kemmerer, who co-owns the company with her husband, told DiSalle that, while the monkeys were returned, they both suffered from the ordeal. In addition, Kemmerer said Naylor put numerous other animals at risk after leaving the door to the greenhouse ajar. She explained that the temperature in the greenhouse is kept constant and the other animals could have been harmed by a temperature change.

A tearful Kemmerer then asked the judge to impose the maximum allowable sentence against Naylor.

"These monkeys function at the capacity of a 2-year-old child. Imagine having your 2-year-old child snatched away from you at night and you don't know where they are," said Kemmerer, who explained that she has raised the monkeys since birth.

Naylor apologized for his actions. He spoke with a whimper while occasionally seeming to shed tears.

DiSalle was unimpressed with Naylor's statements, especially after he learned that Naylor had had additional, unrelated charges filed against him while on bail for this incident.

According to Assistant District Attorney Chad Schneider, Naylor had been charged in Greene County with driving under the influence and possessing pipe bombs and detonating them in mailboxes. Those cases have not yet been settled.

In addition, DiSalle referred to a presentence investigation report in which Naylor is depicted as having a history of animal abuse, trouble in school and a juvenile record.

"How do we wake you up?" asked DiSalle.

In addition to the prison sentence, Naylor was ordered to pay $1,614 in restitution.

Police continue to search for Labore.

Story here.

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