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California man to plead guilty to stealing critically endangered lemur from zoo, DOJ says

A 19-year-old man has agreed to plead guilty to stealing a critically endangered lemur from a Southern California zoo last year, the Associated Press reports. 

Aquinas Kasbar will plead guilty to one misdemeanor count of unlawfully taking an endangered species, the U.S. Department of Justice announced in a release on Monday. Kasbar was arrested after he allegedly broke into the Santa Ana Zoo during after-hours on July 27, and took 32-year-old Isaac, the oldest ring-lemur in captivity in North America. 

Kasbar reportedly used bolt cutters to enter an enclosure that housed lemurs and capuchin monkeys, according to KTLA. In doing so, he also allowed several of the primates to escape, federal prosecutors said. 

Kasbar then placed Isaac in a plastic container with no ventilation and left the lemur in front of a Newport Beach hotel the next day. Court documents reveal that Kasbar purportedly left one note that read, "Lemur (with tracker)," and another that read, "This belongs to the Santa Ana Zoo and it was taken last night please bring it to police." 

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While most of the other animals that had escaped were later caught, prosecutors said Kasbar's reckless theft cost the zoo $8,500 in damages.

Kasbar was previously connected to a string of robberies that targeted unoccupied homes in the Newport Beach area, KLTA notes. He faces a total of 32 charges, including 29 felony counts, as a result of those incidents, the Los Angeles Times reported. 

In regards to Kasbar's most recent case, he faces a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a $100,000 fine.