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Press Release

North Carolina man sentenced for ginseng violation

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of West Virginia

ELKINS, WEST VIRGINIA – David Changhyub Lee, of Raleigh, North Carolina, was sentenced today to one year probation and a fine of $4,250 for aiding and abetting the illegal transportation of ginseng across state lines, Acting U.S. Attorney Randolph J. Bernard announced.

Lee, 35, pled guilty to one count of “Interstate Transportation of Ginseng in Violation of State Law – Aiding and Abetting” in December 2020. Lee admitted to facilitating and purchasing nearly 15 pounds of ginseng for a total of $4250 from Randolph County and elsewhere and transported it to North Carolina.

This case was in violation of the federal Lacey Act (16 USC § 3371 et seq.), which prohibits the taking and interstate trafficking of protected plants and animals in violation of state law.  Under 16 USC § 3373, it's a felony if the plant's market value exceeds $350.00.  West Virginia's ginseng statute (WV Code 19-1A-3a) has various requirements for the ginseng market.  One requirement is that ginseng not be transported to another state absent a certificate of origin from the West Virginia Division of Forestry.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen D. Warner prosecuted the case on behalf of the government. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the West Virginia Natural Resources Police investigated.

U.S. District Judge Thomas S. Kleeh presided.

Updated June 2, 2021