Idaho Aquarium owners get prison for illegal harvest of animals

Idaho Aquarium owners get prison for illegal harvest of animals »Play Video
BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - The owners of the Idaho Aquarium who attempted to illegally harvest marine animals in Florida and then brought them to Boise have been sentenced.

According to the United States Attorney's office, Ammon Covino and Chris Conk, directors for the aquarium, were sentenced Monday in a Florida court room. They pleaded guilty to illegally harvesting spotted eagle rays and lemon sharks from an individual in Florida.

Covino was sentenced to one year and a day in prison, followed by a term of supervised release of two years. Covino was also ordered by the judge to not have any job related to wildlife for two years. Conk received a reduced sentence of four months in prison followed by two years of probation.

Court documents allege that on April 23, Covino sent a text message saying he was unable to obtain the permit and asked whether it was possible he could "sneak" the rays to him in Idaho.

In a phone conversation with the owner of the animals in Florida, court documents allege, Covino responded ... "just start doing it...who gives a sh**, man."

Government officials also say the two directors, despite having the valid permits, wanted to purchase the lemon sharks "on the down low."

Both Covino and Conk changed their plea to guilty to one conspiracy count. The maximum penalty is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

An aquarium, co-owned by Covino, is also under investigation for mistreating and causing the death of hundreds of animals.