Lincoln man gets jail time for tortoise theft

2014-07-11T11:30:00Z 2014-07-12T21:53:08Z Lincoln man gets jail time for tortoise theftBy LORI PILGER / Lincoln Journal Star

Tortoise-nabber Michael Sullivan told a Lincoln judge Friday he "messed up," before getting 180 days in jail on a theft charge.

"I've been trying to make changes in my life," the 25-year-old said as he stood in front of Lancaster County Judge Gale Pokorny.

The judge was skeptical and read off a laundry list of charges that started with an arson when Sullivan was 12: MIPs, DUIs, disturbing the peace, driving under suspension, even an animal cruelty charge among them.

And now, a second theft.

Last month, Sullivan pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft of Captain Hook, a red-footed tortoise that disappeared from the Lincoln Children's Zoo.

Zookeepers didn’t report the tortoise stolen or missing because they thought she had escaped her enclosure and would turn up. But, in June, they got a tip that she'd been stolen and was being kept as a pet.

The woman who had the tortoise told police her then-boyfriend, Sullivan, showed up about 3 o'clock one morning in March 2013, covered in tortoise poop with a gift for her daughter.

The girl named the tortoise Buddy.

"I messed up," Sullivan said in court on Friday.

He said he's been trying to do better since his daughter was born.

Pokorny said told Sullivan he's lucky the tortoise survived, then gave him 180 days in jail for the theft. With credit for good time, he will serve roughly three months.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7237 or On Twitter @LJSpilger.

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