Kelly McKnight and Paul Dontenville, Assistant Statewide Prosecutors, honored as FWC Prosecutor of the Year
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Today, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) honored Assistant Statewide Prosecutors Kelly McKnight and Paul Dontenville with the agency’s Prosecutor of the Year award during the Commission meeting in Destin. They were also the recipients of this prestigious award in 2020.
McKnight and Dontenville serve as Assistant Statewide Prosecutors in Tampa for the Office of Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and are distinguished professionals who have provided guidance, preparation and prosecution for the most complex organized crime cases of fish and wildlife violations in the state of Florida.
“Special Counsels McKnight’s and Dontenville’s dedication and endless amount of professional and personal time has resulted in FWC’s success in the prosecution of other major organized resource crime cases in Florida. Their prosecutorial leadership, integrity, tenacity, professional dedication and passion for the support of FWC’s core mission is unprecedented,” said Col. Roger Young, director of the FWC Division of Law Enforcement.
McKnight and Dontenville were invaluable partners in Operation Triple Play, a major case that gained world-wide attention. Operation Triple Play was a 2-year transnational wildlife smuggling investigation involving 3,600 native flying squirrels that were unlawfully poached from central Florida and laundered through captive wildlife licenses. To date, six U.S. residents have been arrested with two international warrants pending extradition.
McKnight’s and Dontenville’s tremendous legal support, expert coordination and committed dedication have resulted in organized crime cases of this magnitude being brought forward in the Florida court system. These cases are now serving as a statewide example for prosecuting similar wildlife cases in other local jurisdictions.