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Gallery owner gets probation for smuggling wildlife items

CHICAGO - A suburban Chicago man who smuggled prohibited wildlife artifacts into the United States, including ivory and items made from tigers, has been sentenced to five years' probation.

At a hearing Wednesday, a federal judge also ordered Glen Joffe to do 1,500 hours of community service and surrender more than $500,000 in prohibited artifacts. He had faced up to 18 months in prison.

Joffe, 56, pleaded guilty earlier to violating federal laws protecting endangered species. He also pleaded guilty to importing protected wildlife and to illegally possessing a headdress made from protected birds.

Joffe and his 54-year-old partner Claudia Ashleigh-Morgan, who co-own Primitive Art Works gallery in Chicago, were accused of stocking their gallery and Oak Brook home with prohibited items.

Prosecutors have said those artifacts included ivory carvings, feathered hairpins, as well as items made from elephants and other animals.

In June, a judge sentenced Ashleigh-Morgan to three years' probation for owning a headdress made from the feathers of protected birds. She was also fined $12,000 and ordered to perform 600 hours of community service.

Both Joffe and Ashleigh-Morgan were indicted in January on 20 counts, including smuggling merchandise made from protected wildlife and making false statements to U.S. Customs agents.

The couple first came to the attention of federal agents in March 2003 after they appeared in a newspaper article with items that looked as if they had been made from endangered species.

The two were stopped at O'Hare International Airport in April 2003 as they were coming back from China with illegally imported items made from ivory and sea turtle in their luggage, prosecutors have said.

http://www.belleville.com/mld/belleville/news/ state/15626128.htm

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