HUFFINGTON POST
08/01/2011 06:34 pm ET | Updated Oct 01, 2011

Man sentenced to jail for smuggling whale teeth

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A convicted smuggler of sperm whale teeth was sentenced in Boston federal court on Monday to 30 days behind bars for illegally importing the ivory for his scrimshaw business.

Charles Manghis, 56, of Nantucket, Massachusetts also was ordered to pay a $50,000 fine and, once his prison term is finished, to remain on probation for two years. The court also moved to order him to forfeit several pieces of whale ivory that were seized from his home and business.

Manghis was convicted in January 2010 of conspiracy, smuggling and making false statements to federal agents.

"Today's sentence should serve as a stern warning to poachers and ivory smuggers that we will put you out of business," said Bruce Foucart, special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations.

"The callous disregard for protected species will not be tolerated," Foucart said.

Authorities said Manghis and his codefendant, Andrei Mikhalyov of Ukraine, smuggled the rare and expensive teeth from the Ukraine for the old-time craft of scrimshaw, in which pictures are engraved on whale teeth and highlighted with a pigment. The criminal activity involved plans to bribe Ukranian government officials, U.S. authorities said.

The price of whale ivory skyrocketed after sperm whales became an internationally protected species, guarded by the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act in the early 1970s and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Greg McCune)