A former corrections officer was sentenced to a maximum four years and three months in prison Friday for slaughtering and stuffing endangered tigers and leopards for collectors.
William Kapp, 37, was also fined $5,000 for his part in a ring that killed the big cats to turn them into stuffed trophies and rugs. The meat was sold to a gourmet market for $3 a pound.
"It was wanton and willful shooting and slaughtering of these beautiful animals," U.S. Dist. Judge Blanche M. Manning said.
Kapp's lawyer, Scott Kamin, argued that the animals killed by his client were not pure-blooded tigers and leopards but hybrids, and thus not protected by the law.
Kapp was convicted in April on 17 counts of violating the Endangered Species Act and a related law. Fifteen people have been charged with participating in a six-state ring that transported, shot, skinned and stuffed the cats.
Prosecutors say the animals were bought from exotic animal dealers who purchased them as surplus from circuses and other dealers.
Shortly after the verdict against Kapp, a fire burned part of the gourmet market where the meat was sold. The FBI said an underground animal-rights group claimed responsibility.