Philadelphia Store Owner Sentenced To 30 Months’ Imprisonment For Smuggling Elephant Ivory From Africa
Earlier today, Victor Gordon was sentenced before Judge Kiyo A. Matsumoto in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, New York, to 30 months’ imprisonment, to be followed by 2 years of supervised release, for smuggling elephant ivory into the United States. As part of that sentence, the court ordered Gordon to pay a fine of $7,500 and to forfeit $150,000, along with the approximately one ton of elephant ivory that was seized by agents from Gordon’s Philadelphia store in April 2009.
The sentence was announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Honora Gordon, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Northeast Region Office of Law Enforcement.
“The illicit trade in elephant ivory has created an environmental crisis in Africa and is fueling the development of organized criminal groups around the world,” said United States Attorney Lynch. “For this reason, the United States has committed itself, through international treaties and domestic law, to preventing the flow of illegal ivory through and within our borders. This prosecution – which resulted in the seizure and forfeiture of one of the largest known caches of illegal elephant ivory in the United States and the imprisonment of the person who acquired and attempted to profit from it – is emblematic of that commitment.” Ms. Lynch commended the agents and inspectors of the Fish and Wildlife Service for their outstanding efforts in leading the investigation.
As is described in the government’s sentencing memorandum, over a period of at least nine years, the Gordon acquired more than 400 pieces of carved elephant ivory, valued at approximately $800,000. On four occasions beginning in 2006, Gordon paid a smuggler to acquire ivory directly from Africa and then unlawfully secret it into the United States through John F. Kennedy International Airport. In some instances, Gordon stained the ivory and directed the smuggler to create false receipts in order to make it appear that the ivory had been lawfully acquired before international and U.S. law imposed strict regulations on the importation of elephant ivory in 1989. Over the years, Gordon sold tens of thousands of dollars of carved ivory to customers from his Philadelphia store, and prior to the search of the store in April 2009, was attempting to sell his business, including the ivory collection, for $20 million.
Gordon’s sentence caps an eight-year investigation that has yielded nine convictions in this district for smuggling and Lacey Act offenses relating to the illegal importation and sale of elephant ivory.
The government’s case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Darren A. LaVerne and Claire Kedeshian.
Penn Valley, Pennsylvania
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. CR-11-517 (KAM)