Parrish ‘Monkey Whisperer’ gets probation for illegal sale

Published: Jun. 9, 2022 at 11:06 AM EDT
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TAMPA, Fla. (WWSB) - The exotic-animal dealer from Parrish known as “The Monkey Whisperer” was sentenced Wednesday in federal court to five years of probation for conspiring to sell a protected primate to singer Chris Brown.

Jimmy Wayne Hammonds’ sentence included eight months of home confinement and a $90,000 fine.

According to court records, Hammonds owned and operated The Monkey Whisperer, LLC. From September 2017 until February 2018, Hammonds conspired to sell a capuchin monkey to the celebrity in California, even though that buyer could not lawfully possess a capuchin monkey in California.

Hammonds arranged the transportation of the monkey from Florida to California through individuals who were not permitted to possess that species of monkey in either state. The client had paid more than $12,000 for the animal. Law enforcement later seized the monkey from the client’s California residence.

Hammonds was indicted in January 2021 and charged with conspiracy, trafficking and submitting a false record in violation of the Lacey Act, a federal law restricting wildlife trade, according to his indictment. Among other charges were witness tampering and violating the Endangered Species Act.

In addition, Hammonds illegally sold cotton-top tamarins, which are primates listed as an endangered species, to buyers in Alabama, South Carolina, and Wisconsin. To conceal his unlawful wildlife trafficking, Hammonds submitted false records to a law enforcement officer and attempted to persuade a witness to lie to a law enforcement officer by saying that they had purchased the cotton-top tamarins at a flea market.

Hammonds had been previously convicted in Florida state court for similar conduct in 2012.

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals applauded the sentence. “This brazen career criminal got off easy,” PETA Foundation Associate Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Michelle Sinnott said. “but the conviction alone should be enough to keep him out of the monkey-exploitation business as long as federal officials do their jobs and revoke his federal Animal Welfare Act license. PETA is calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to use this case as a jumping-off point to relentlessly pursue the other Hammondses of the world and hold them accountable for trafficking animals for a buck.”

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