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Idaho Aquarium Board Member in Trouble With the Law Again

Christopher Conk and Ammon Covino charged with violating Lacey Act.

February 26, 2013

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Aetobatus narinari

Spotted eagle ray. Photo by John Norton/Wikipedia
Christopher K. Conk, an owner and board member of the Idaho Aquarium is again in trouble with the law. This time he and another board member, Ammon Covino, have been slapped with federal charges for allegedly buying and transporting protected species from Florida's Atlantic coast to their aquarium in Idaho. In all, four charges were filed against the pair for violating the Lacey Act, which prohibits the sale and transportation of protected species.

The pair is accused of conspiracy for buying protected wildlife that came from Florida, and if convicted, each faces up to 20 years in prison and $1 million in fines, according to KTVB.com. The duo apparently contracted with a seller of spotted eagle rays (Aetobatus narinari), which is on the IUCN Red List as a near threatened species and lemon sharks (Negaprion brevirostris), and received shipments of these animals at the aquarium.  They appeared in a Boise federal court last week and are expected to appear in a Key West, FL courthouse March 15 where they will be formally arraigned.

Conk pled guilty in 2011 to smuggling goods from the United States, misdemeanor trafficking in wildlife, and violating the Endangered Species Act. Conk was caught illegally shipping corals that were harvested from the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. More on that conviction can be read here.

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