United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announces that Jimmy Wayne Hammonds, also known as “the Monkey Whisperer” (57, Parrish), today pleaded guilty to having violated the Endangered Species Act and Lacy Act in connection with a conspiracy to sell a protected primate to a celebrity client in California. Hammonds faces a maximum punishment of eight years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.
Hammonds – as the courts see it
According to court documents, Hammonds owned and ran The Monkey Whisperer, LLC, a business engaged in the breeding and marketing of animals. From September 2017 through February 2018, Hammonds plotted to sell a capuchin monkey to an individual in California, even though the buyer could not lawfully own a capuchin monkey in California. Hammonds assisted the transit of the capuchin monkey from Florida to California through persons who were not licensed to possess that kind of monkey in either state. The client had spent more than $12,000 for the animal. Law authorities eventually confiscated the monkey from the client’s California house.
What Hammonds sold
In addition, Hammonds unlawfully sold cotton-top tamarins, which are primates designated as an endangered species, to customers in Alabama, South Carolina, and Wisconsin. To hide his criminal wildlife trafficking, Hammonds provided fake documents to a law enforcement officer and sought to induce a witness to lie to a law enforcement officer by stating that they had acquired the cotton-top tamarins at a flea market.