FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 2003
TDD (202) 514-1888
KOVACH INDICTED FOR IMPORTING PROTECTED PERUVIAN ORCHID
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A federal grand jury in Tampa, Florida today returned an indictment charging James Michael Kovach with importing into the United States contrary to law, and transporting, concealing, and selling after importation, one or more protected orchid specimens, specifically specimens of the genus Phragmipedium, commonly known as Tropical lady’s slipper orchids. All species of Phragmipedium are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) of Wild Fauna and Flora.
According to the indictment, the defendant entered the United States from Peru on June 4, 2002, carrying one or more specimens of Phragmipedium. The defendant allegedly did not have the necessary permits to export the specimen from Peru or import the specimen into the United States.
Kovach also is charged with possessing one or more specimens of Phragmipedium traded contrary to CITES.
The investigation of this case was lead by Special Agents of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with assistance from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Customs Service and officials of CITES management authority in Peru known as INRENA. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Middle District of Florida and the Wildlife and Marine Resources Section of the U.S. Department of Justice.
An indictment is a formal accusation and is not proof of guilt. Defendants are presumed innocent until and unless they are found guilty.