Woman Indicted for Turning Turtles into Guitar Picks

Hawksbill sea turtles shells illegally used to pluck some sour notes

Tuesday, Oct 6, 2009  |  Updated 12:58 PM CDT
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The woman and her cohorts used endangered species turtle shells to fashion musical accessories, according to the feds.

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Sadly, these turtles won't be singing, "Happy Together."

A Santa Rosa, Calif., woman has been indicted in federal court in San Francisco for allegedly making guitar picks out of endangered sea turtle parts shipped from China into the United States, authorities said.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office said 54-year-old Qing Song was indicted last week for her alleged role in importing and selling items made from the shells of the endangered Hawksbill sea turtle.

Hawksbill sea turtles are one of seven turtle species listed as endangered under either U.S. law or international treaties, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The alleged activities took place from 2005 to 2007, and included the possession and sale both of imported guitar picks already made from the shells and of imported shells that were later fashioned into picks, prosecutors said.

Song has been charged with one felony count and one misdemeanor count of violating the Lacey Act, which prohibits illegal trade in wildlife, and one misdemeanor count of violating the Endangered Species Act, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

She faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison and a  $200,000 fine for the felony, and one year in prison and a $100,000 fine for each of the two misdemeanors, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Song's next court date is April 14.

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