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Snakes from porn case unwanted

JACKSON — The federal government doesn’t want 41 venomous snakes from a man prosecutors say coerced an underaged girl to pose with the reptiles in pornographic photographs. Nobody seems to know where most of the snakes are, anyway.

John Joseph Maillet, 48, pleaded guilty to production of child pornography and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon Sept. 8 in U.S. District Court in Gulfport. He agreed to give up guns, computer equipment, a cell phone and the snakes.

Prosecutor Scott Gilbert filed a motion this week asking a judge to remove “41 venomous snakes” from the list of forfeited property the government is seeking. The motion was granted Wednesday.

Gilbert told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Thursday that the government only seeks the forfeiture of live animals in rare cases that depend on several factors. The expense of keeping and feeding animals is one consideration.

Gilbert said the U.S. attorney’s office never took physical possession of the snakes, so he didn’t know much about what kind they were or what happened to them.

FBI spokeswoman Deborah Madden said there were 41 snakes in Maillat’s home when agents executed a search warrant in 2009. When they returned Aug. 10 of this year, shortly after Maillet’s arrest, there were only 12 snakes remaining, authorities said. Agents called in a herpetologist, an expert in the field, who removed the remaining snakes from the property. Madden said it’s not clear what happened to the others.

Maillet, of Port Jervis, N.Y., was living in the south Mississippi town of Carriere when he was arrested in August. The indictment in the case said he made the child pornography over two periods in 2007.

Maillet is being held without bond until his scheduled Dec. 8 sentencing. He faces up to 30 years in prison. His lawyer did not immediately return a message from AP seeking comment Thursday.

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