West Hollywood Store and Owner Sentenced for Violating Endangered Species Act by Illegally Importing Seahorses
LOS ANGELES – Necromance, a West Hollywood shop that sells novelty wildlife items, and its owner were sentenced today in federal court for violating the Endangered Species Act by unlawfully importing seahorses.
Necromance and Nancy Delap Smith, 56, of Studio City pleaded guilty in July to misdemeanor violations of the Endangered Species Act. Both defendants illegally imported items that were protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
During today’s sentencing hearing, Necromance was ordered to pay a $20,000 fine and was placed on probation for two years.
Smith was placed on probation for a period of one year and ordered to serve 200 hours of community service.
Both defendants were sentenced by United States Magistrate Judge John E. McDermott.
“The defendant and her store participated in illegal wildlife trafficking, which is prohibited by the United States, international treaties and nearly every nation on the planet,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “These laws and international agreements are designed to protect species that are subject to senseless killing and poaching simply to meet the demands of individuals who want to possess unusual animals.”
In plea agreements filed in court, Necromance and Smith admitted to unlawfully importing seahorses, as well as bat skulls, that had been imported from Indonesia in 2011. Smith and Necromance also unlawfully imported other wildlife, such as scorpions and tree frogs, without declaring those items to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which was responsible for the investigation in this case.
“Illegal trafficking in protected wildlife species will not be tolerated in this country,” said Jill Birchell, special agent in charge of the Pacific Southwest Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “This case demonstrates that officers of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will continue their diligent efforts to investigate and prosecute those who seek to profit by illegally exploiting the world’s wildlife resources.”
This case was prosecuted by Dennis Mitchell of the Environmental and Community Safety Crimes Section.