Breaking! Donald Frank Rooney Is The 1st Person Convicted Of Selling Ivory Under The Washington Animal Trafficking Act

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Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has announced that Donald Frank Rooney of Everett has pleaded guilty to trafficking species threatened with extinction under a voter-approved initiative banning the sale or transfer of products made from certain endangered species.

Rooney’s plea and sentencing in Snohomish County Superior Court represents the first-ever conviction under the Washington Animal Trafficking Act (WATA).

Rooney was sentenced to 15 days in jail, 30 days of electronic home monitoring, and will pay a $10,000 fine and a $4,000 criminal wildlife penalty paid to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to help fund future enforcement. In addition to three items Rooney sold to Fish and Wildlife detectives that genetic testing confirmed contained ivory, he will also forfeit over 1,500 similar items found in his home.

“Washington voters sent a clear message that trafficking in items made from these endangered species will not be tolerated,” Ferguson said in a statement. “The first-ever conviction under this important voter-approved initiative puts traffickers on notice; you will be prosecuted.”

Ferguson filed the criminal charges against Rooney under WATA in April.

The charges against Rooney were among the first brought under WATA, which was created by voter-approved Initiative 1401. More than 70% of Washington voters approved I-1401 in 2015. The law took effect in 2016. WATA makes it a felony to sell, purchase, trade or distribute parts of specific endangered or vulnerable species of: elephants, rhinos, tigers, lions, leopards, cheetahs, pangolins, marine turtles, sharks or rays.

“I am proud of my Department’s police officers and staff who have worked hard to bring this unprecedented case to conclusion, this is a win for wildlife and the citizens of Washington, and sends a clear message that the illegal commercialization in both local and international wildlife will not be tolerated,” stated Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Kelly Susewind. “This is the first step of many in protecting the long-term sustainability of these threatened and endangered populations.”

WDFW detectives investigate potential violations of WATA. The U.S. Fish Wildlife Service performs genetic testing of items that may violate the act, as well as assisting WDFW in some investigations.

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