Idaho Aquarium Workers Plead Guilty in Florida Keys Marine Life Conspiracy

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Spotted eagle ray

    An Idaho aquarium and two employees pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiring to illegally transport spotted eagle rays and lemon sharks from the Florida Keys to Boise, authorities said.

    Ammon Covino and Christopher Conk, both 40, and Idaho Aquarium, Inc., entered guilty pleas in federal District Court in Key West for conspiring to harvest, transport, and sell the marine life in violation of Florida laws, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida.

    Authorities said Covino and Conk tried to purchase the marine life between March and November 2012 to display at the aquarium, and told their Florida suppliers to ignore the law which requires licenses and permits for the rays and sharks.

    But the suppliers were cooperating with federal authorities and phone conversations and text messages from Covino and Conk were recorded, authorities said.

    Covino's nephew, Peter Covino, was also convicted for obstruction of justice after he tried to have the suppliers destroy invoices and messages related to the illegal purchases, authorities said.