Florida woman arrested for selling monkey that attacked teenage girl

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A Satsuma, Fla. woman has been arrested for illegally selling a capuchin monkey to a 15-year-old girl, who then attacked the teenager.

Joan Newberger, 75, faces multiple charges after selling the girl and her mother the monkey for $9,500 on November 22, according to an affidavit from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

The affidavit indicates that the exchange took place in Satsuma. The girl’s mother was reportedly worried about the legality of the purchase, after finding the monkey for sale via an online advert.

(Photo: Capuchin Monkey, Putnam County Sheriff’s Office Arrest Affidavit)

When the mother and daughter arrived in Florida to purchase the monkey, Newberger took them to a trailer on his property to show them the capuchin and another monkey for sale, a marmoset, according to the affidavit.

In the end, the mother and the teenager decided to buy the capuchin. When they asked Newberger for papers and a copy of her license, the affidavit says she told the two she didn’t have the paperwork. The mother and teen still left with the monkey after giving Newberger the $9,500, but later returned to demand a refund and return the capuchin to Newberger.

According to the affidavit, Newberger agreed to return $9,000 to them.

When the 15-year-old went to pet the monkey “and say goodbye”, it bit her finger, causing an infection that led to hospitalization, according to the affidavit.

The girl’s mother called law enforcement to report the incident, which led to an investigation by the FWC and the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office. When officers entered Newberger’s property, she showed them the two monkeys in her trailer. The affidavit says she told FWC officers she was “aware she needed a monkey permit”, confirmed she owned the Capuchin and said she brought it in Florida from South Carolina.

The affidavit says Newberger denied that anyone came to buy the monkey or was bitten by it, despite digital evidence provided to law enforcement by the girl and her mother regarding the sale and the bite of the capuchin. . Documents provided to law enforcement officers included screenshots, online advertising and statements, according to the affidavit.

Newberger previously held “multiple captive wildlife licenses in the state of Florida” and was licensed to a company, ACME Grooming & Pet Haven, the affidavit adds. She also had an out-of-state exhibit and sales license, but it expired in 2017.

In 2016, Newberger twice received citations from law enforcement for his capuchin monkey biting people, according to the affidavit.

Now Newberger faces four charges of unlawful possession of conservation animals from the PCSO and one charge of possession of captive wild animals for commercial or sanctuary purposes without a license, a citation from FWC.

About Patrick K. Moon

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