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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of California

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Saratoga Resident Sentenced To A Three Month Prison Term After Pleading Guilty To Managing Elephant Ivory Trafficking Operation

SAN FRANCISCO – Shahram “Ron” Roohparvar was sentenced on November 2, 2016, to three months in custody followed by three months of home confinement for illegally trafficking elephant ivory announced United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch and Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS) Law Enforcement Jill Birchell.  The sentence was handed down by the Honorable Charles Breyer, United States Senior District Judge, following a guilty plea entered in July of this year.

According to his plea agreement, Roohparvar, 61, of Saratoga, admitted he falsified documents in order to illegally sell and ship protected elephant ivory to international purchasers.  In addition to the African elephant ivory, Roohpavar admitted that he illegally sold other wildlife protected by law to international purchasers.  This wildlife included leopard, helmeted hornbill, and red coral.  Roohparvar owned and operated a website through which he sold the protected wildlife.

The sale of elephant ivory has been largely banned and highly regulated since 1976.  Federal statutes and international agreements regulate the export of elephant ivory and make it a crime to, among other things, export such products without the proper permits and declarations. 

“Illegally wildlife trafficking presents a significant challenge for threatened and endangered wildlife like the African elephant, helmeted hornbill and coral,” said U.S. Attorney Stretch.  “This office will vigorously investigate and prosecute those people whose illegal activities threaten to drive these precious resources into extinction.”

"One of the highest priorities of the USFWS Office of Law Enforcement is to investigate individuals and companies that are involved in the unlawful commercial trafficking and smuggling of protected animals and plants here and around the world,” said Special Agent in Charge Jill Birchell.  “Many species are teetering on the brink of extinction due to poaching to supply the illegal wildlife trade, and elephants, in particular, have become increasingly susceptible to this unlawful exploitation.  This investigation demonstrates our commitment to bring to justice those who violate fish and wildlife laws for personal or commercial gain as well as those who drive the illegal trade nationally and internationally."

In addition to the prison term and home confinement, Judge Breyer sentenced Roohparvar to two years of supervised release, a fine of $20,000, restitution of $20,000 payable to the Lacey Act Reward Fund, and a special assessment of $100.  Roohparvar currently is free on bond; Judge Breyer ordered him to surrender on or before February 3, 2017, to begin serving his prison sentence.  

Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Vartain Horn is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Ana Guerra and Theresa Benitez. The prosecution is the result of an investigation conducted by the USFWS Office of Law Enforcement.

Updated December 27, 2016