A Newport Beach man was sentenced Monday to three months in prison after pleading guilty in July to the theft of a 32-year-old ring-tailed lemur from the Santa Ana Zoo last year.
Aquinas “Quinn” Kasbar, 19, will serve the federal sentence concurrently with a sentence for other thefts.
He also must pay $8,485 in restitution to the zoo.
Kasbar declined to comment at Monday’s hearing, but his attorney, Brian Gurwitz, said his client is apologetic for his actions.
“The nature and circumstances of the offense in this case is intriguing,” U.S. District Judge Andrew Guilford said. “This sentence needs to reflect the seriousness of the offense and ... to convince other people not to do this. This sentence needs to convince Mr. Kasbar not to do this, but the irony is he was convinced not to do it before the legal justice system intervened.”
“Sounds like you’ve learned your lesson,” Guilford told Kasbar.
Isaac, North America’s oldest lemur in captivity, was taken after the zoo closed July 27, 2018. Someone cut through enclosures housing lemurs and capuchin monkeys, authorities said.
Shortly after 2 a.m. July 28, staff members at the Newport Beach Marriott Bayview were surprised to find Isaac in a container at the hotel’s front door. The crate included two handwritten notes that read “Lemur (with tracker)” and “This belongs to the Santa Ana Zoo. It was taken last night. Please bring it to police,” authorities said.
In his plea agreement, Kasbar described using bolt cutters to break into the enclosures after the zoo was closed.
The charge, a federal misdemeanor count of unlawful taking of an endangered species, carried a maximum penalty of a year in federal prison and a $100,000 fine, prosecutors said.
Kasbar was initially arrested Dec. 1 and charged with a total of 29 felony and two misdemeanor counts related to a series of burglaries in Newport Beach that occurred between July 2017 and December 2018, court records show. Kasbar pleaded guilty to all 32 charges in September. He is scheduled for sentencing in the burglaries on Jan. 10.
Santa Ana police in May identified Kasbar as a suspect in the theft of Isaac based on evidence they said the Newport Beach Police Department obtained in its investigation of the burglaries.