Black market animal breeder known as ‘Monkey Whisperer’ convicted of illegally selling primate to singer Chris Brown

This is the end of this monkey story.

A black market animal breeder who called himself the ‘Monkey Whisperer’ has been sentenced to eight months of house arrest after being caught illegally selling a capuchin monkey to famed R&B singer Chris Brown.

The investigation into Hammonds began in 2017, when animal rights activists saw videos of Brown’s daughter and newly acquired pet monkey on the singer’s Instagram page and alerted wildlife officials.

The investigation revealed that Hammonds, 58, of Parrish, Fla., sold the monkey, named Fiji, to Brown for $12,650 and then shipped the animal from Florida to California, without obtaining a license and using an unlicensed courier, they said. the promoters.

It’s also illegal to own a capuchin in California without a license, according to the State Department of Fish and Wildlife. Brown was therefore charged with two misdemeanors after turning the monkey over to authorities. He later made a deal to avoid prison by paying the cost of caring for the monkey at a sanctuary and agreeing to stay out of trouble for six months.

Hammonds’ attorney, Gary Ostrow, said his client believed he was selling the capuchin monkey to a legitimate buyer in Nevada, where it’s legal to own capuchin monkeys, but he didn’t learn until halfway through the transaction that the animal’s ultimate buyer was Brown. . . When asked about the sale later, prosecutors said Hammond lied to investigators about what he knew about Brown being the real buyer.

“It’s privileged, self-proclaimed people like Chris Brown who think they can buy a monkey for their entertainment, casting a real shadow over what is otherwise a legitimate business run by people who truly love animals,” Ostrow said.

A message sent to Brown’s representatives was not immediately returned.

The “Run!” and the ‘Kiss Kiss’ singer has remained controversial for much of his career since pleading guilty in 2009 to assault and serving six months for beating up his then-girlfriend, singer Rihanna.

Suspicious ape sales

Further investigation into Hammonds’ affairs revealed several records showing that he had illegally sold primates to clients across the country. Between 2012 and 2017, promoters say he earned more than $1 million from those sales.

“Hammonds’ history shows that he engaged in illicit wildlife trafficking for his own financial gain for years,” prosecutors wrote in court documents.

Hammonds operated a Florida primate breeding business called The Monkey Whisperer, LLC, and was accused of regularly selling the animals, some of which are listed as endangered species, on the black market without proper permits.

Prosecutors say records showed that Hammonds was illegally selling endangered white-headed tamarins to buyers in Alabama, South Carolina and Wisconsin. In one instance, they say that Hammonds tried to convince a buyer to lie to authorities that she had acquired the monkeys at a flea market and they later died.

Hammonds’ attorney said his client admitted he made mistakes, but more importantly, he was a law-abiding animal guardian who made a legitimate living.

“They paint a picture of a guy who is the Al Capone of the black market animal trade, but that couldn’t be further from the truth,” Ostrow said. “Jimmy Hammonds loves animals and takes care of them better than most breeders.”

Hammonds was previously convicted in Florida state court in 2012 of illegally transporting monkeys without proper permits.

In the most recent case, Hammonds pleaded guilty in April to violating the Lacey Act and the Endangered Species Act. In addition to eight months of house arrest, Hammond was sentenced to five years of probation and sentenced to pay a $90,000 fine.

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