Kansas man pleads guilty to importing Asian Leopard cats


WUHAN, CHINA – OCTOBER 22: A Leopard cat during the 5th TICA international cat show at the Aoshan Shiji Plaza on October 22, 2016 in Wuhan, Hubei province, China. (Photo by Wang He/Getty Images)

A Kansas man has pleaded guilty to unlawfully importing endangered leopard cats.

U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said Lawrence E. Payne, 34, or Olathe pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Endangered Species Act. 

The leopard cat is a small wild cat native to Asia. It is considered as an endangered species under federal law.

The investigation began when Payne applied to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a breeding license for Asian leopard cats. When investigators served a search warrant at Payne’s home, they found three Asian leopard cats. Payne admitted importing the animals.

Sentencing will be set for a later date. Payne faces a penalty of up to a year in jail and a fine up to $50,000.

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