Case Snapshot
Case ID: 4965
Classification: Beating
Animal: reptile
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Monday, Jul 4, 2005

County: Richmond City

Disposition: Not Charged

Person of Interest: Max Belle

Case Updates: 1 update(s) available

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is investigating the death of the Falling Creek alligator. If "Darth Gator" was an alligator protected by the Endangered Species Act, the fisherman who caught and clubbed him could be facing federal charges.

Chesterfield authorities say they're waiting for federal authorities to finish their investigation before they decide whether or not to file animal cruelty charges.

"I'm disappointed on how this turned out....we've been trying for a live capture for a while of this gator," said Major Thierry Dupuis of the Chesterfield County Police Department.

The fisherman who killed the alligator hired attorney David Baugh.

Case Updates

According to Belle, that's when he threw a fishing lure ahead of the animal, reeled back and snagged him. But once he had the reptile, Belle says he was stuck, without a cell phone and out on the water yelling for help.

Belle says that's when he realized he had to do something.

"So," he says, "I just took the boat oar and clubbed him, probably fifteen times or so, trying to know him unconscious so I could at least get in and get off the water."

Max Belle says he was told by the USDA that he wasn't supposed to catch or kill it. Now, Belle isn't talking any more about his experience.

The USDA could have an answer by the end of the week on the reptile's type of species. Penalties for someone convicted of capturing and killing a protected species include a $100,000 fine or a year in prison.
Source: MSNBC - July 7, 2005
Update posted on Jul 8, 2005 - 11:09AM 


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