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NJ man sentenced to six months’ home confinement for selling carvings made of sperm whale ivory

NEW JERSEY – A Middlesex County man was sentenced Wednesday to five years’ probation, including six months’ home confinement, for the interstate sale of carvings made of sperm whale ivory, U.S Attorney Philip R. Sellinger said.

Richard Gontarek, 55, of Woodbridge previously pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael A. Hammer in Newark federal court to an information, charging him with two counts of violating the Lacey Act, by selling to a buyer in Pennsylvania carvings made of sperm whale ivory that Gontarek should have known were possessed in violation of New Jersey State law, Sellinger said.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, on Jan. 3, 2018, and on Dec. 6, 2018, Gontarek shipped a package containing a carving made from the tooth of a sperm whale to a buyer in Etter, Pennsylvania, in exchange for payment. Sperm whales are listed in Appendix I to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

The Lacey Act makes it a crime to sell in interstate commerce wildlife possessed in violation of any state law when in the exercise of due care the seller should have known that the wildlife was possessed in violation of the state law. New Jersey state law makes it unlawful for any person to possess with intent to sell ivory or any item that contains or is made from ivory.

Gontarek has agreed to pay a fine of $2,800 to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Lacey Act Reward Fund. He cannot possess, purchase, sell or transport wildlife protected under federal or state law during the probationary period, Sellinger said.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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