Dead Butterflies and Federal Prison?

By Allan Lengel

Michigan Dentist Kevin Rucinski may have the butterflies when he gets sentenced in federal court in Bay City later this year. And for good reason.

The affable dentist in the quaint little Northern Michigan community of Roscommon pleaded guilty earlier this month to violating the Endangered Species Act by buying rare dried insects including butterflies, spiders and beetles from overseas on eBay and failing to file a declaration for Importation or Exportation of Fish and Wildlife and failing to pay importation fees that amounted to more than $5,000, according to his guilty plea in federal court in Bay City, Mi.

He faces $20,000 in fines and restitution and a possible prison sentence of up to a year.

Imagine, if he goes off to prison and turns to a killer/drug trafficker and tells the guy what he’s in for.

Funny thing is Rucinski was busted once before for importing dead dried butterflies and fined.

But after that, he kept buying those dang insects and violating federal law, according to a plea agreement drawn up the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Reached by phone Thursday afternoon, the friendly dentist only wanted to say that he was a collector of the insects. He declined to comment further for the story.

According to his guilty plea agreement , the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had intercepted a UPS package in January 2006 addressed to Rucinski. The package had come from Hong Kong and contained imported dead butterflies in violation of the Endangered Species Act.

At the time, he was given a violation notice, fined $225 and directed to a website to learn about the laws and regulations regarding the import of fish and wildlife, a court document said.

“Nevertheless, Ruckinski continued to buy and import dried insects, including butterflies ….spiders, beetles, and mollusk shells”, the court document said.

Between Oct. 2005 and November 2006, he made over 1,000 successful bids for such items on eBay. Sometimes he paid $150 for a single, dried butterfly, the court document said.

In all, he paid $15,000 for the wildlife shipments and evaded fees and licensing that would have cost him in excess of $5,000, the court document said. Under the plea agreement, he is expected to pay a $15,000 fine and $5,000 in restitution. The sentencing guidelines range between 6 to 12 months, but it’s unclear whether the judge will will send him off to prison.  No sentencing date has been set.

Read Guilty Plea Agreement

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