A Florida man was sentenced to 12 months of probation for tossing a live, four-foot alligator through a Wendy’s drive-thru window as a prank, according to the Palm Beach Post. In October of last year, 24-year-old Joshua James of Jupiter found an alligator in a pond off Southern Boulevard and decided to play a prank on his friend.
Therefore, he took the alligator and drove to the Wendy’s in Royal Palm Beach where his friend worked. His plan was to toss the alligator at his friend, but he soon discovered that he wasn’t working that night. However, James reportedly went through with his alligator prank anyways.
Man who tossed live alligator in Wendy’s drive thru window found guilty on two counts https://t.co/Smalppqqi4
— WPTV (@WPTV) May 31, 2016
When he pulled up to Wendy’s drive-thru window, he tossed the live, four-foot alligator in the window when the cashier had her back turned. It was reported that when the cashier discovered the alligator on the floor, she “jumped out of the drive-thru window in a desperate attempt to escape the reptile that he thought had inexplicably shown up on the restaurant floor.”
However, it was all fun and games until the single father was arrested and charged with “assault with a deadly weapon, possession of an alligator with intent to kill or injure and second-degree petit theft.” Shortly after his arrest, he was released “after posting $6,000 bail.”
The executive director of the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary, David Hitzig, stated that “in this situation there wasn’t a consideration of safety at least in my mind there wasn’t. He may have thought this was something funny he was doing.”
“But I’ve been bitten by alligators and I’ve seen what alligators can. I think that’s probably something the judge took a look at.”
According to WPBF, no one was injured when James tossed the alligator through a Wendy’s drive-thru window, and the animal was “returned to the wild.”
While in court Tuesday to enter a plea, Palm Beach County Judge Barry Cohen told James – whose family was by his side – that the case was the most bizarre he’s ever seen in his “25 years on the bench.”
“I’ve never seen anything close,” Judge Cohen added. “This type of thing is not a prank. It’s a crime.”
James stated that it started as a “stupid prank and he deeply regrets doing it. I severely apologize to Wendy’s, the cashier at Wendy’s, I apologize to FWC for having to waste their time to come out and to deal with all of that.”
— Chuck Weber (@ChuckWeber12) May 31, 2016
The Wendy’s employee, who James tossed the alligator at, appeared in court to testify, where she stated that after the incident, it “scared [her] enough that she even thought about quitting her job.”
James’ father, Edwin, spoke in court also, stating that his son “loved playing with animals and reptiles ever since he was a child growing up in the Acreage.”
During court, James’ Defense attorney Dean Merten asked Judge Cohen “for six months of probation and to withhold a finding of guilt on two misdemeanor charges from the Royal Palm Beach case that could have landed James in jail for up to six months.”
Tossing alligator through @Wendys drive-thru window amounts to 1 year probation in Florida. https://t.co/G7uiF0JYYw
— PhillyVoice (@thephillyvoice) May 31, 2016
Merten didn’t want his client to have two “misdemeanor convictions on his record in addition to the national spotlight the case has brought him since his arrest earlier this year.”
“As you know, judge, things can live forever on the Internet,” Merten said. “25 years from now, if you Google ‘Joshua James alligator,’ you’ll get this case.”
However, the judge sentenced James to 12 months of probation and 75 hours of community service. James was also ordered to pay $1,200 in fines and court costs.
After Joshua James admitted to tossing an alligator through a Wendy’s drive-thru window, he is no longer permitted to be around animals, except for the family pet. The judge also ordered him to “stay away from Wendy’s.”
[Image via Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office]