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Posts tagged: Ammon Covino

Feds confiscate sea turtle from Idaho Aquarium

Federal fish and wildlife officers confiscated the green sea turtle that had been on display at the Idaho Aquarium in Boise on Tuesday, the AP reports, because two aquarium founders who had a permit to keep the turtle - a federally protected species - are now convicted felons. A special permit is required for sea turtles held in captivity; revocation of the permit came in the wake of convictions of Ammon Covino and Chris Conk, who pleaded guilty to conspiring to bring illegally harvested spotted rays and lemon sharks to Boise. Under court order, Covino and Conk can no longer be involved with the aquarium and they have been removed from its board.

Idaho aquarium chief gets year and a day in prison for wildlife violations

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.

Federal prosecutors in Florida seek prison time for Idaho Aquarium chief

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) — Federal prosecutors are seeking prison time for the president of an Idaho aquarium convicted in the illegal shipping of protected sharks and rays from Florida. A federal judge in Key West is scheduled Monday to sentence Ammon Covino, president of Idaho Aquarium in Boise and co-founder of Portland Aquarium in Oregon. Prosecutors are seeking a nearly two-year prison sentence for Covino, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy in September. Court documents show Covino admitted involvement in illegally obtaining and shipping three spotted eagle rays and two lemon sharks for the Idaho Aquarium. Authorities intercepted communications in which Covino told Florida suppliers to ignore the law and make the shipments. The aquarium itself also pleaded guilty, agreeing to pay a $10,000 fine and donate $50,000 to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Idaho Aquarium case leaves 20-year-old Eagle man facing up to 20 years in prison for two phone calls

A 20-year-old Eagle man is facing up to 20 years in federal prison after being convicted of obstruction of justice in Florida in connection with wildlife from the Florida Keys illegally purchased for display at the Idaho Aquarium in Boise. Federal authorities say Peter Covino had no involvement in the illegal purchases, but he made two phone calls in February to a Florida wholesale marine life dealer, asking the dealer to delete all text messages, emails and other evidence linked to purchases by his uncle, Ammon Covino. Unbeknownst to Peter Covino, the dealer was cooperating with federal authorities and the phone calls were recorded; Ammon Covino was arrested Feb. 21 on charges of conspiracy and violations of the federal Lacey Act by purchasing and transporting wildlife from the Florida Keys to Idaho, including spotted eagle rays and lemon sharks. Peter Covino, who admitted in court he made the two calls at his uncle's direction, is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 24 and also faces fines of up to $250,000. Click below for the full news release from the U.S. Attorney's office, and a report from the Associated Press.

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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