Kansas man admits importing endangered leopard cats

Tanzania Lion and Leopard Cub_308520

In this Tuesday, July 11, 2017 photo supplied by Joop van der Linde, a leopard cub walks away after suckling on a 5-year-old lioness in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania. In the incredibly rare sight, the small leopard, estimated to be a few weeks old, nurses in the photographs taken this week by a […]

 An Olathe man has admitted importing endangered leopard cats.

U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said 34-year-old Lawrence Payne pleaded guilty Wednesday to violating the Endangered Species Act.

The leopard cat is a small wild cat native to Asia that has been designated as an endangered species.

Prosecutors say the investigation began when Payne applied for a breeding license for Asian leopard cats through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Investigators who searched his home said they found three Asian leopard cats.

A sentencing date hasn’t been set. Payne faces up to a year in jail and a fine up to $50,000.

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