Earlier this year, Ammon Covino, who co-founded the Portland Aquarium and is the former president of the Idaho Aquarium, was arrested on charges of illegal harvesting of protected sharks and rays from Florida. After his initial arrest, he was taken into custody a second time for attempting to destroy evidence related to his case. He would go on to plead not guilty to the charges, as all criminals seem to do, but we’re happy to say that the almost year-long saga is drawing to a close. For his illegal harvesting, Covino was sentenced to one year and a day in prison and will be hit with a $10,000 fine, be forced to donate $50,000 to the National Fish and Wildlife Federation, and will be banned from working in a wildlife exhibit for a minimum of two years.
While a year in the pokey might seem significant for the illegal harvesting activities, it pales in comparison to what Covino could have been sentenced to. Originally, he was up against a 20 year prison sentence and a million dollars or more in fines.
According to court documents and the news stories surrounding the case, Covino went on to admit involvement in the illegal acquisition of three spotted eagle rays and a pair of lemon sharks, all of which were shipped to the Idaho Aquarium. According to the law, not only is it illegal to acquire protected livestock without specific documentation and permits, but it is also illegal to simply ship these animals. Evidence in the case show that Covino directed Florida-based shippers to ignore the law.
Source: The Oregonian