A Commack man has pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy charges...

A Commack man has pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy charges for smuggling and selling rare specimens of dried butterflies and other insects. Credit: Craig Ruttle

A Commack man has pleaded guilty to running a smuggling operation that imported and exported more than 17,000 dried specimens of exotic and endangered butterflies, bees and other insects.

Charles Limmer, 75, entered his plea Tuesday to one count of conspiracy, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

He admitted to a scheme that smuggled the specimens into and out of the United States in at least 59 shipments with an estimated worth of up to $216,000, federal prosecutors said.

Brooklyn federal prosecutors had initially charged Limmer in a six-count indictment and had sought up to 20 years in prison.In the plea agreement, prosecutors offered Limmer a potential prison term of between 12 and 18 months at his scheduled sentencing Oct. 4 “if the defendant has accepted responsibility."

Limmer was also ordered to pay more than $30,000 in restitution and turn over the specimens to the federal government. The specimens include 2,500 federally protected dried birdwing butterflies, according to the indictment.

Limmer’s attorney did not return calls for comment Wednesday.

Prosecutors said Limmer had previously run a business importing and exporting exotic insects under a 2016 U.S. Fish and Wildlife license. The Fish and Wildlife Service suspended his license in October 2022, but prosecutors said afterward, he began the smuggling operation.

Limmer directed a seller to put one specimen “in a little box” with “no paperwork or mention of insect specimens.” He also labeled the package as “Wall Decorations” or “Origami Paper Craft,” according to the indictment.

Last July, Limmer received a package from Indonesia containing dried specimens but labeled as a fabric sample.

In September, Limmer received another package from the Solomon Islands labeled as art crafts. That same day, he listed two birdwing butterfly specimens for sale at a price of $479.95.

Authorities also seized 300 dried bee specimens in December, 200 dried white moths in April 2023 in Miami and more than 10,000 other butterfly specimens during a search of Limmer’s home last September, according to a plea agreement.

If Limmer complies with the terms of his plea deal, "no further charges will be brought against the defendant for smuggling wildlife into and out of the United States,” according to the agreement.

He is required to follow three years of supervised release after finishing his prison sentence and could be subject to a fine of more than $250,000 if he violates the terms.

Animal cruelty case update … Riverhead farmland preservation … LIRR IOU invoices Credit: Newsday

Gilgo-related search in Manorville ... UBS Arena MTV Awards ... Jericho fatal crash ... Girls softball league

Animal cruelty case update … Riverhead farmland preservation … LIRR IOU invoices Credit: Newsday

Gilgo-related search in Manorville ... UBS Arena MTV Awards ... Jericho fatal crash ... Girls softball league

Latest videos

Newsday LogoSUBSCRIBEUnlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months
ACT NOWSALE ENDS SOON | CANCEL ANYTIME