tennessee man sentenced for wildlife trafficking crimes
Anchorage, Alaska – United States Attorney Karen L. Loeffler, announced that a Tennessee man was sentenced in federal court in Anchorage, to pay a fine of $30,000, for violating one felony count of the Lacey Act as well as two misdemeanor counts of Lacey Act violations.
On October 26, 2011, George Dongdong Jia, 43, of Oak Ridge, Tennessee was sentenced by Chief United States District Judge Ralph R. Beistline.
Pursuant to a plea agreement, Jia admitted to illegally selling, online, a polar bear hide, black rhinoceros foot and a raw walrus tusk to an undercover agent of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in 2010. As part of the sentence, Jia is required to forfeit all illegally possessed wildlife parts, including parts and skins of tiger, marine mammal parts and the horns of rhinoceros. Additionally, Jia was placed on three years probation and banned from selling or possessing wildlife parts.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Skrocki, who prosecuted the case, the investigation revealed that Jia, using a business, trafficked in illegal wildlife parts over the internet. In April 2008, Jia, using his personal email address as a contact point, posted an advertisement on Taxidermy Studio’s online classified adds stating that he wanted to buy the following wildlife items: 1) rhino, hippo, elephant and any part(s) of them, and 2) tiger, leopard, polar bear and any part(s) of them. In May 2008, agents of USFWS learned that Jia was offering certain wildlife products for sale that could be illegal. Based on that information, an undercover agent emailed Jia and expressed interest in walrus tusks, polar bear hides and polar bear skulls, which Jia had offered for sale on either his personal website, or Taxidermy Studio’s online classified adds. After some negotiation on prices, Jia agreed to sell an un-worked walrus tusk, a polar bear hide, and a polar bear skull. The government’s investigation revealed that Jia knew the law concerning the illegal sales of wildlife, but completed the sales anyway. Jia told the undercover agent that polar bears had to be older than 1972 to be sold in the United States and that after May 14, 2008, it was illegal to purchase any polar bear, no matter what age.
Court documents show that in August 2008, Jia offered to sell, and ultimately did sell to an undercover agent, a rhinoceros foot for $1,500. Prior to the sale, Jia had the rhinoceros foot posted for sale online. The rhinoceros foot was confirmed by the USFWS forensics lab as being from a black rhinoceros, whose parts are prohibited for sale by the Endangered Species Act.
Stanley Pruszenski, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service office of law enforcement added, “The Fish and Wildlife Service is committed to protecting our endangered and threatened wildlife resources that are at risk from illegal commercialization. Mr. Jia's illegal sales are a prime and flagrant example of this commercialization which only contributes to the decline of endangered species and wildlife stocks. The sentence imposed by the court reflects the severity of the conduct.”
The case was investigated by the USFWS Office of Law Enforcement.