It wasn’t the buying and selling of elephant ivory that got a Lake Township man in trouble, but the way he allegedly labeled the package.
Mark St. John, 53, of rural Northwood was named in a bill of information filed last week in U.S. District Court, Toledo, charging him with false labeling of an elephant ivory shipment. The package, according to federal prosecutors, was shipped June 1, 2011, to an overseas buyer.
Scott Coon, attorney for Mr. St. John, said his client likely will plead guilty to the offense when he appears in federal court April 24.
“He’s a collector of ivory items,” Mr. Coon said. “None of it was illegal to possess.
“You can go on eBay and find this stuff all over the place,” he noted.
Mr. St. John bought many of the ivory items from overseas, Mr. Coon said, and when he sold an item, he did not label the package as containing ivory because he did not want it to be stolen before it arrived at its destination.
Federal law makes it illegal for anyone “to make or submit any false record, account, or label for, or any false identification of, any fish, wildlife, or plant” intended for sale or shipment from a foreign country or for interstate or foreign commerce.
The offense carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the case was investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Delaware, Ohio.
Mr. St. John was featured in a Blade article last year detailing his passion for raising large and colorful perch in a large pond at his Walbridge Road home.
Contact Jennifer Feehan at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-213-2134.