Wednesday, July 18, 2018|6:36 p.m.
RENO– A Nevada felon pleaded guilty to several charges Wednesday including breaking the United States Endangered Species Act after he rammed his ATV into a gate and harmed the federally safeguarded Devils Hole pupfish at a Death Valley National Park wildlife refuge.
Trenton Sargent, 28, of Carson City likewise destroyed security cameras and fired a gun at eviction in April 2016 at a separated system of the park’s Ashe Meadows National Wildlife Sanctuary in Amargosa Valley along the Nevada-California line, prosecutors said.
He pleaded guilty in federal court in Las Vegas Wednesday to one count each of breaching the Endangered Types Act, ruining U.S. residential or commercial property and being a felon in possession of a gun.
Violating the federal wildlife security act is a misdemeanor that brings a maximum charge of up to a year in prison and a $50,000 fine. Each of the other criminal offenses, both felonies, are punishable by approximately Ten Years in prison and $250,000 fine.
After failing to break through the gate at the enclosed location at Devils Hole, prosecutors say Sargent and two co-defendants scaled the fence and destroyed a sensor center for video cameras and equipment, along with a National forest Service video monitoring video camera.
Sargent stated he then stepped into the water of Devils Hole, smashing fish eggs and larvae throughout the peak spawning season for endangered pupfish, who lay their eggs on the shallow rack about 80 miles northwest of Las Vegas.
It’s the only place worldwide known to still be occupied by the uncommon types connected to fish that once lived in an ancient lake covering Death Valley, National Park Service officials stated.
Sargent’s sentencing is set for Oct. 25.
The co-defendants, Edgar Reyes, 37, of North Las Vegas, and Steven Schwinkendorf, 31, of Pahrump, formerly pleaded guilty to destruction of federal government home and an infraction of the Endangered Types Act. Each was sentenced to one year’s probation.