A Skokie based company plead guilty to illegally exporting African elephant ivory and other protected wildlife products to foreign customers, according to a press release from the State's Attorney.
Atlas Fibre Company,3721 Chase Ave., was also fined $150,000 for violating the federal Endangered Species Act. Atlas, which manufactures and distributes fiber, plastic and other materials for industrial applications, had a division called Atlas Billiard Supplies that sold parts involved in fabricating billiard cue sticks, including African elephant ivory, shell products and leathers made from the hides of elephants, monitor lizards, kangaroo, ostrich and shark.
The company was formally charged last month and was arrigned today before Judge Sidney I. Schenkier in the U.S. District Court. Schenkier sentenced Atlas under the terms of a plea agreement, placing the company on probation for one year, in addition to imposing the $150,000 fine, which will be paid to the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Lacey Act Reward Fund, according to the press release.
“Failing to obtain necessary export permits is not merely a technical violation of the law,” State's Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald said in a press release. “It is a crime to intentionally export protected wildlife parts and products without a permit to ensure that we protect, not profiting from, threatened or endangered species.”
Atlas admitted that its billiard supplies division sold approximately 61 pieces of worked African elephant ivory valued at $3,057 to a customer in Japan in Oct. 2006 without a U.S. export permit required under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Atlas intentionally removed from the shipping invoice any reference to “ivory” to help the shipment move through Japanese customs, according to the press release.
Atlas also admitted as relevant conduct that, without a CITES permit, it exported African elephant ivory products valued in excess of $93,000 on approximately 129 separate occasions to customers primarily in Japan and Germany between Jan. 2002 and Nov. 2006, the press release said. Also without a permit, Atlas exported monitor lizard and African elephant leather valued in excess of $11,700 on approximately 53 occasions between September 2005 and October 2009, as well as mother of pearl and abalone shell products and leathers made from various other protected wildlife species valued in excess of $3,799 on approximately 37 occasions between January 2005 and October 2009.
In total, Atlas’ failure to obtain export permits and to pay inspection fees deprived the Fish and Wildlife Service of $12,273 in revenue.