Breaking! Gary L. Cooper Of Virginia Faces Up To One Year In Prison For Using Online Platforms To Sell Items Made From Elephant & Whale Ivory

Gary L. Cooper, from Fredericksburg, Virginia, pleaded guilty last week to the unlawful sale of endangered species, including elephant and whale ivory. According to court documents, 60-year-old Cooper operated online storefronts to sell ivory items, all in violation of the Endangered Species Act.

As noted in a statement from the United States Department of Justice, from at least June of 2015 through early 2020, Cooper used platforms, such as Craigslist and eBay, to list for sale individual carvings made in whole or in part of ivory. These items ranged in size, including two raw elephant tusks that measured at least 28 inches long. In addition to several raw and carved tusks, the advertisements offered numerous elephant ivory carvings and both raw and scrimshawed sperm whale teeth. Cooper told his clients, including an undercover agent, that he was selling off an estate belonging to an elderly couple in poor health, when in reality he was regularly buying ivory online and flipping the pieces for profit.

Over about a 16-month period beginning in September 2018, Cooper did business with United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) undercover agents by selling or offering for sale no less than 50 pieces of elephant ivory, with a total market value between $40,000 to $95,000.

During their correspondence, Cooper and the undercover agents discussed the illegality of buying and selling ivory across state lines. On November 17, 2018, Cooper offered to sell to an undercover USFWS Special Agent multiple ivory pieces for a total cost of $8,125. On November 26, 2018, Cooper sold two pieces of carved elephant ivory to the undercover agent and mailed the items from Virginia to New York. Upon forensic investigation, the items were confirmed to be genuine elephant ivory.

Cooper is scheduled to be sentenced on August 31st. As part of the plea, Cooper will forfeit approximately 136 pieces of raw and carved ivory. He faces a maximum penalty of one year in prison. Sadly, sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

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