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East County Thu Aug 13, 2009 5 years ago

Justin Matthews staged python capture

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by: The Observer Staff

East County wildlife rehabilitator Justin Matthews admitted to staging a dramatic capture of a 14-foot Burmese python from a Manatee County drain pipe July 25.

Matthews made the admission to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Comission officials yesterday.

The capture drew national attention and included his son, Brandon, as well as four Manatee firefighters who did not know the capture was a hoax. Matthews said he was trying to make a point with the staged capture but admitted it was a mistake.

Matthews bought the snake from Southeast Reptile Exhchange June 25. He could face charges for failing to microchip the snake — which is required by state law.

The incident is still under investigation.

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