Friday, February 22, 2013

Idaho Aquarium Founders Hooked for Illegal Fish Purchases

Posted By on Fri, Feb 22, 2013 at 9:06 AM

idaho_aquarium.jpeg

Federal law enforcement officials say two Idaho men—operators of the Idaho Aquarium on North Cole Road in Boise—are treading in illegal waters.

Ammon Covino, 39, and 40-year-old Chris Conk were arrested late Thursday and hauled into a Boise federal courtroom, where they were accused of illegally purchasing marine life. The pair has been ordered to appear March 15 in a Key West, Fla., federal courtroom, where they will face trial.

The Idaho Aquarium said on its Facebook page Thursday that it was closed "due to unforeseen circumstances."

Covino is the Aquarium's president and Conk is its secretary. The Aquarium is registered as a nonprofit agency with the Idaho Secretary of State's Office.

A Florida grand jury returned an indictment charging the two with conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act, alleging that Covino and Conk purchased four spotted eagle rays and two lemon sharks for approximately $6,300, and that the fish were allegedly harvested illegally and without a permit.

The defendants are each charged with one count of conspiracy and three counts of illegal purchase and sale of fish and wildlife. Each count is punishable by up to five years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000 and at least three years of supervised release.

You can read the full 14-page indictment here: idaho_acquarium_indictment.pdf

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