A man who admitted to stealing a critically endangered lemur from the Santa Ana Zoo has agreed to plead guilty to a federal criminal charge, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Monday.
Aquinas Kasbar, 19, will plead to a misdemeanor count of unlawfully taking an endangered species, according to a DOJ news release.
The Newport Beach resident faces a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine, the release stated.
On July 27, 2018, Kasbar broke into the zoo after hours and used bolt cutters to cut open an enclosure that housed lemurs and capuchin monkeys, an action that freed several of the animals, according to federal prosecutors.
Among those who got out was 32-year-old Isaac, the oldest ring-tailed lemur in captivity in North America.
In a plea agreement filed Monday, Kasbar admitted to stealing Isaac, according to the release.
He put the lemur in an unventilated plastic drawer, then abandoned the primate the following day in front of a Newport Beach hotel.
According to court documents, two notes were placed on the plastic drawer containing Isaac: one read, “Lemur (with tracker)”; the second read, “This belongs to the Santa Ana Zoo and it was taken last night please bring it to police.”
The Santa Ana Zoo lost nearly $8,500 because of the theft, prosecutors said.
The other animals who escaped due to the cut enclosure were also recovered.
In addition to the zoo theft, Kasbar was also identified last December as the suspect in a string of residential burglaries targeting unoccupied homes in the Newport Beach area, according to police.
He faces a total of 32 charges, including 29 felony counts, for his alleged involvement in the burglaries, the Los Angeles Times reported.