Ammon Covino, president of Idaho Aquarium in Boise and co-founder of Portland Aquarium in Oregon, has been sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison for illegally shipping protected rays and sharks from Florida; Covino’s prison term will be followed by two years of probation, during which he’ll be barred from working in a wildlife exhibit and selling or purchasing animals, the AP reports. The 40-year-old admitted involvement in illegally obtaining and shipping three spotted eagle rays and two lemon sharks for the Idaho Aquarium; he could have faced up to five years in prison.
Also sentenced today was Christopher Conk, 40, who received four months in prison for his role in the illegal shipments, and also will be barred from working in the wildlife business during two years of probation. Conk already was serving six years probation for a 2011 conviction for selling live coral to buyers around the world.
U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez said at the sentencing in Key West, Fla., that the crime "strikes to the very heart of this area and the economy of this area," the AP reported. Additional penalties could be imposed on the Idaho Aquarium during proceedings tomorrow; the aquarium already has agreed to pay a $10,000 fine and donate $50,000 to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.