FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                         ENR
THURSDAY, JULY 6, 1995          AUSA DANIEL GOODMAN (213)894-4667
                                    DOJ JIM SWEENEY (202)514-2008


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A federal jury in Los Angeles late yesterday
convicted Theodora Elizabeth Swanson, 35, of Memphis, Tennessee,
on felony charges stemming from her involvement in a multi-year
conspiracy to smuggle cockatoo eggs from Australia to the United
States in violation of federal law and international treaty, the
Department of Justice and the United States Attorney for the
Central District of California announced.   

     After hearing nearly five days of testimony, the jury
convicted Swanson of conspiracy to trade in protected wildlife,
aiding and abetting smuggling and violating the Lacey Act, a
federal law that protects wildlife.  

     "Today's conviction marks the successful end of our
nationwide investigation into cockatoo smuggling," said Lois J.
Schiffer, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the
Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division.  "It
makes good on our promise to aggressively pursue and prosecute
wildlife crime."

     Evidence in the case revealed that between 1986 and 1991,
more than 10 individuals travelled to Australia and took the eggs
of protected cockatoos from nest sites in the wild.  These
collecting trips occurred every year.  The eggs were then
transported to the United States in concealed egg vests worn
underneath the smugglers' clothing.

     Once in the United States, the eggs were hatched, reared and
sold to collectors under the guise that they had been produced by
captive parent birds.  The cockatoos sold for between
approximately $1,000 and $13,000 per bird, depending on the
species.  Investigators with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
assert that more than 400 cockatoo eggs were taken from nests and
transported to the United States during the life of the

     Evidence in the case suggested that Ms. Swanson had
travelled twice to Australia as an egg smuggler with the leader
of the conspiracy, William Wegner.  After these trips, Swanson
moved in with Wegner at a residence in Malibu and, according to
testimony, continued to assist him in recruiting smugglers,
facilitating smuggling trips and caring for the smuggled

     According to United States Attorney Nora M. Manella, Swanson
is the sixth and last defendant to be convicted on an indictment
that was returned in April, 1994.  One defendant, John Barth, was
sentenced in September 1994 to 24 months imprisonment for
conspiring to trade in smuggled cockatoos.  Swanson and four
other defendants (William Arthur Wegner, Brian T. Bradley, David
Conrad Freda, and Mark Skillman) are scheduled to be sentenced in
August and September 1995.

     Swanson was the last of 15 individuals prosecuted
successfully across the country for federal crimes associated
with the cockatoo smuggling conspiracy.  The nationwide
investigation was led by Special Agent Robert Jarmuz of the
United States Fish and Wildlife Service and prosecuted by Robert
Anderson, Senior Trial Counsel with the Environment Division's
Wildlife and Marine Resource Section.  The trial of Swanson was
prosecuted jointly by Anderson and Assistant United States
Attorney Daniel S. Goodman in the Los Angeles U.S. Attorney's

     Two of the three counts of which Swanson has been convicted
carry a maximum sentence of five years incarceration and a
$250,000 fine.  The remaining count carries a maximum sentence of
one year in prison and a $100,000 fine.