Message #209 Date: Wed, 01 Jul 1998 21:52:00 Subject: Human Remains/Protected Wildlife Dealer Sentenced [ AzTeC / SWA SASIG ] : From: Teresa Paglione firstname.lastname@example.org ya'll may have already seen this, but if not, here... Date: Fri, 26 Jun 1998 17:28:12 -0500 From: email@example.com To: firstname.lastname@example.org Seller of Native American Human Remains, Protected Wildlife For immediate release June 26, 1998 For further information, contact Ed Grace 516/825-3950 x232 Diana Weaver 413/253-8329 Terri Edwards 413-253-8327 Seller of Native American Human Remains, Protected Wildlife, Nets Jail Sentence, Fine The owner of a wildlife specialty store in New York City yesterday received the maximum 12-month sentence allowed under the 1990 Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act in what is believed to be the first jail time penalty imposed under the Act. William Stevens, age 49, will serve concurrent sentences for violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Convention in the International Trade of Endangered Species, according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent Edward Grace of Valley Stream, N.Y. U.S. Federal Court Judge David Trager sentenced Stevens to a total of 16 months in federal prison, a fine of $20,000 and nearly $9,000 in restitution for trafficking in Native American human remains and endangered wildlife. "We hope this sentence sends a message that illegal traffic in Native American remains and in endangered wildlife will not be tolerated," Grace said. Stevens, owner of Evolution Natural History in SOHO, pleaded guilty in March, Grace said, to conspiring to sell skulls, skull fragments and bones from Native Americans. Grace said searches of Stevens' store and interviews revealed that he planned to sell or had already sold the remains of at least 20 Native Americans, the largest number of remains involved in such illegal activity. Individual skulls and bone fragments were priced from $200 to $1,400 each. This is only the third successful prosecution for trafficking in Native American remains in the country, and the first by the Service. Stevens also smuggled endangered gorilla and babirusa (wild boar) skulls into the United States, and he conspired to sell protected bald eagle skulls and parts. Wildlife law enforcement officers seized wildlife items protected by the federal government and the State of New York valued at more than $74,000. "The confiscated items include a tiger rug, gorilla feet ashtrays, a chimpanzee skeleton, an elephant foot stool, a gibbon arm, a stuffed pangolin (anteater) and wood turtle shells," according to Grace. "All of these species are struggling to survive, and the sale of products made from them only encourages illegal killing." "Illegal wildlife trafficking is one of the major causes of worldwide wildlife loss. In monetary gain, the $2 billion to $3.5 billion a year industry exceeds illegal arms dealing and is surpassed only by drug smuggling," Grace said. Law enforcement officers also recovered four Native American skulls, several skull fragments, two bald eagle skulls, a chimpanzee skull, a mountain lion skull, and a gibbon carcass at a Long Island residence of an individual supplying items to Stevens. Grace explained that the human skulls were taken from Native American burial sites in Florida and Missouri from the Peoria and Seminole tribes. The eight-month investigation began in April 1997 after Service wildlife agents and U.S. Customs inspectors at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport discovered stuffed Indian cobras in a box addressed by Stevens and mailed from Thailand. The package lacked the required permits. According to Grace, an undercover visit to Stevens' store revealed other violations. In July last year, wildlife agents intercepted a second package at JFK Airport containing skulls of endangered animals. Stevens had mailed the box, labeled as clothing, from France to one of his employees, Grace said. A third shipment addressed to the store was inspected by wildlife agents last September at JFK Airport. It contained 100 golden birdwing butterflies, which requires a permit. They were falsely labeled as a non-protected species before the shipment was exported from Thailand. The investigation was conducted by the Service and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation with assistance from the U.S. Customs Service and the National Park Service. The case was successfully prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ilene Jaroslaw of the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of New York and the New York State Attorney General's Office. ======================================================== News releases are also available on the World Wide Web at www.fws.gov/r9extaff/pubaff.html. They can be reviewed in chronological order or searched by keyword. Questions concerning a particular news release or item of information should be directed to the person listed as the contact. General comments or observations concerning the content of the information should be directed to Craig Rieben (email@example.com) in the Office of Public Affairs.