Hercules woman sentenced for importing stuffed tiger
Bay City News Service
Article Launched: 08/11/2008 11:10:54 AM PDT
A Hercules woman has been sentenced to six months’ home confinement and three years’ probation for her role in illegally importing a real, mounted and stuffed tiger from Vietnam, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
At a hearing on Friday, U.S. District Court Judge D. Lowell Jensen also ordered 31-year-old Nicki Phung to pay $5,000 in restitution to a non-profit organization that protects great cats, including tigers, throughout the world.
Prosecutors say Phung pleaded guilty on April 16 to violating the Lacey Act, a federal wildlife statute, for her role in importing the stuffed tiger, which she listed as a “stuffed toy.”
The U.S. Attorney’s office said Phung admitted that she imported the tiger from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, into San Francisco International Airport in December 2007 without obtaining an export permit from Vietnam or an import permit from the U.S.
According to prosecutors, tigers are listed as endangered species under the federal Endangered Species Act and are protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, otherwise known as CITES.
Phung began serving her sentence immediately after she was sentenced on Friday.
Her prosecution resulted from a three-month investigation by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.