A 19-year-old Newport Beach resident was sentenced Monday to 90 days in federal prison for stealing an endangered ring-tailed lemur from the Santa Ana Zoo last year, prosecutors said.
U.S. District Judge Andrew J. Guilford also ordered Aquinas Kasbar to pay $8,486 in restitution to the zoo. In July, Kasbar pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of unlawfully taking an endangered species.
Kasbar was charged with breaking into the Santa Ana Zoo in July 2018 after it had closed for the night. He then used bolt cutters to enter the zoo’s enclosure for lemurs and capuchin monkeys, which allowed several of the primates to escape, though they were later captured, prosecutors said.
Kasbar then stole Isaac, a 32-year-old, ring-tailed lemur who is the oldest of his species living in captivity in North America, and placed him in a plastic drawer without ventilation holes, court papers state.
The next day, Kasbar abandoned the lemur in front of a Newport Beach hotel, still inside the plastic drawer with two notes, which read, “Lemur (with tracker)” and “This belongs to the Santa Ana Zoo it was taken last night please bring it to police.”
The lemur case was investigated by the FBI, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Newport Beach Police Department, and the Santa Ana Police Department.
Authorities also suspect Kasbar of committing several burglaries at unoccupied Newport Beach homes over three months in late 2018, Newport Beach police spokeswoman Heather Rangel wrote in a statement. In December 2018, he was arrested by Newport Beach detectives and charged with multiple counts of burglary, possession of stolen property, possession of burglary tools, identity theft and resisting arrest.
Search warrants were served at various locations around Newport Beach in connection with Kasbar’s arrest, Rangel wrote. In one storage unit, police discovered a large amount of suspected stolen property valued at several hundred thousand dollars.
Kasbar, formerly a student at Corona del Mar Middle School, made waves in the summer of 2018 as the surfer who rode an air mattress at the Wedge.