Aquinas Kasbar, 19, of Newport Beach, faces up to a year in prison and a maximum of a $100,000 fine after agreeing to plead guilty to one misdemeanor count of unlawfully taking an endangered species, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California said in a statement Monday.
Kasbar broke into the zoo after hours July 27, used bolt cutters to cut a hole in enclosures for lemurs and capuchin monkeys and took the 32-year-old lemur named Isaac, prosecutors said. The following day, he left the animal in a plastic drawer outside a Newport Beach hotel with a note that said, “This belongs to the Santa Ana Zoo it was taken last night please bring it to police,” prosecutors said.
The hole that Kasbar cut allowed several other animals to escape, and they were all recovered, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
Kasbar’s attorney, Brian Gurwitz, said in a phone interview Monday evening that the teen “quickly realized it was a bad decision ,and he took steps that night to ensure that it would be returned safely to the zoo.”
“It was a poor youthful decision made by a high school student,” Gurwitz said.
Kasbar also faces a slew of charges related to a series of burglaries in Newport Beach.