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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary

Taxidermist Guilty of Selling Protected Birds

November 15, 2000

LOS ANGELES — A Norwalk taxidermist has been sentenced to three years' probation and fined $1,000 for selling a stuffed ferruginous hawk and the unlawful possession for sale of a stuffed golden eagle--federally protected birds.

Jack L. Bessey, 79, pleaded guilty to violations of the Bald and Golden Eagle Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, said Assistant U.S. Atty. Joe Johns.

Johns said Bessey also tried to sell hunted migratory waterfowl, including a redhead duck, a snow goose, a barnacle goose, a wood duck, a pintail duck, a northern shoveler and a green-wing teal.

Bessey was targeted for an undercover sting operation shortly after U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agent Neil Mendelsohn noticed him selling mounted birds at a booth at the Del Amo Mall in Torrance.

"I told him I was interested in buying some of the mounts to decorate my office," Mendelsohn said. "Then he offered to sell me a golden eagle for $700."

Two weeks later, the agent visited Bessey at his Rosecrans Avenue studio in Norwalk and bought the ferruginous hawk for $200. The agent also made arrangements to buy the eagle Bessey said he obtained from a Montana hunter.

Bessey advised Mendelsohn to tell anyone who asked that he hunted the birds himself. Mendelsohn returned with a search warrant. The eagle was "stashed at a neighbor's home," he said. Bessey was sentenced Monday.

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