Florida man charged in rare deer theft pleads not guilty

Posted at 12:15 PM, Aug 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-13 12:15:37-04

KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) -- A Florida man caught with protected deer in a car pleaded not guilty to federal charges of violating the Endangered Species Act.

The Miami Herald reports 18-year-old Erik Damas Acosta of Miami Gardens was released Friday on $20,000 bond after his arraignment in Key West federal court.

Damas Acosta and 23-year-old Tumani Anthony Younge of Tamarac were arrested in July after a deputy found three Key deer in their car during a traffic stop.

Damas Acosta's attorney, Joe Nascimento, said his client was "saddened" that one deer was euthanized because of a broken leg.

Younge will be arraigned in federal court Aug. 25. The men pleaded not guilty to state felony charges, including aggravated animal cruelty.

Key deer grow to the size of a large dog. They're only found in the remote island chain.