During the Dec. 5-7 Commission meeting in Gainesville, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) honored Highlands County Assistant State Attorney Gary Ellis with the agency’s Prosecutor of the Year Award. Ellis is a prior recipient of this award, earning the recognition three years ago for his work with the FWC.
Gary Ellis is an Assistant State Attorney for the 10th Judicial Circuit in Highlands County. Ellis is a distinguished professional who is always eager to assist and provide case preparation guidance with complex and long-term investigations. During a recent case involving nonnative hoofstock at an unlicensed commercial game farm in Highlands County, he assisted local officers with drafting two search warrants for the game farm. During the execution of the search warrants, Ellis traveled to the scene and provided invaluable expert guidance throughout the entire process.
He acted as the liaison with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services veterinary staff and FWC legal counsel concerning the quarantine of the hoofstock, and worked tirelessly through the complexity of this case to coordinate the administrative functions of both agencies. This case, which spanned almost a calendar year to the day and concluded with the defendant being adjudicated guilty on all charges, was the largest unlawful captive wildlife case in FWC history.
“Gary’s dedication to his work and the assistance he gives to FWC in this region have been extraordinary. His exceptional work on this recent case supported law-abiding captive wildlife facilities and conservation of our native species and we wanted to let him know how valuable his efforts are to the state of Florida,” said Maj. Roger Young, FWC Regional Commander.
“I feel blessed to have had the privilege to work with such a fine group of men and women,” said Ellis. “I’m pleased to continue to work with the FWC to ensure that our state’s natural resources are there for generations to come.”
Without Assistant State Attorney Ellis’ tremendous legal support, expert coordination and committed dedication, a case of this magnitude, which will serve as a system-wide example for prosecuting similar wildlife cases, would not have ended so successfully.
“We are thrilled to honor Gary with this well-deserved award,” FWC Division Director Col. Curtis Brown said. “He has been a steadfast ally to the FWC in our mission to protect the people of Florida and conserve our natural resources.”