Christopher K. Conk, a board member of the newly opened Idaho Aquarium in Boise has pled guilty to smuggling of goods from the United States, misdemeanor trafficking in wildlife and violating the Endangered Species Act, according to a news report in the Idaho Statesman. Conk, who faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for smuggling, and up to one year in prison and a $100,000 fine on each misdemeanor charge will probably face six to 12 months in prison or home detention based on his plea agreement, the report said, citing Assistant U.S. Attorney George Breitsameter.
Conk, who is also secretary of the non-profit aquarium’s four member board, was caught illegally shipping protected corals after one of his business’s suppliers was caught illegally harvesting coral in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, the report said. Conk’s ex wife and apparent business partner, Deidra Davison also pleaded guilty to misdemeanor trafficking in wildlife and violating the Endangered Species act. The couple’s company packed and shipped corals to company customers around the world, mislabeling the corals as minerals, aquacultured zoa fragments and aquacultured ricordea fragments. They also failed to obtain a wildlife import/export license.