Updated:
Original:

Former MN professor to pay $500K after smuggling ivory

Author:

A former St. Cloud State University professor has been ordered to pay $500,000 after he admitted to illegally smuggling ivory.

Yiwei Zheng, also known as Steve Zheng, was charged last year for smuggling elephant ivory and illegally exporting rhinoceros horns from the United States to China.

The 43-year-old admitted to the crime in January, and was sentenced Monday, according to a news release.

He was ordered to pay $500,000 into the Lacey Act Reward Fund. The fund is used by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reward people who give information about wildlife crimes, as well as help pay the costs of caring for wildlife that's being held as evidence during investigations.

Zheng was also sentenced to serve three years of probation, six weeks of intermittent confinement, and 150 hours of community service.

“Those who engage in this illegal trade create demand, and a market for, the exploitation of endangered species such as black rhinoceros,” Assistant United States Attorney Laura M. Provinzino said in the news release.

Zheng helped to "sustain this illegal market for years," Provinzino added, noting he engaged in more than 300 sales, earning him more than $1 million.

"His profit was earned at the expense of these threatened and endangered species," Provinzino said.

Countries around the world have been working to prevent ivory trafficking and the illegal killing of endangered animals like elephants and rhinos. Last month, Kenya burned a huge ivory stockpile – more than 100 tons, which is equal to the tusks of about 6,700 elephants – in an effort to deter illegal ivory trading, the BBC reports.

Next Up

Anthony Edwards

Ant's rally not enough to save Timberwolves

Edwards' third-quarter explosion came too late in a loss to the Pelicans.

Rent, mortgage, house, key, door

Victims of property manager's sexual harassment to get $736,000

It's part of a consent decree announced by the Department of Justice Monday.

The Liffey Pub Facebook

St. Paul's Irish pub The Liffey reveals it won't reopen

The beloved pub has been closed since the start of the pandemic.

Proctor football

Proctor football investigation: Case goes to county attorney

The office will review the evidence and consider possible criminal charges.

kirsten mitchell screegrab

'I’m heading home!': CA reporter announces return to WCCO

Kirsten Mitchell interned at WCCO years ago. Now, she's coming back as a reporter.

eggs

As part of price gouging settlement, farm to donate 1M eggs to food nonprofits

The egg producer will donate more than 1 million eggs to nonprofits fighting hunger.

plane, Piper PA-32

Sheriff: Witnesses saw plane 'performing aerial maneuvers' before fatal crash

The single-engine aircraft went down in northern Wisconsin, killing a brother and sister.

Screen Shot 2021-10-25 at 8.51.02 AM

Community rallies around Minnetonka HS dancer battling brain tumor

A fundraiser raised more than $44,000 of its $60,000 goal in the first two days.

twin city gardens

In rare move, MDH takes control of Minneapolis nursing home

The temporary receivership is to ensure resident safety.

Sen Mark Koran crop

Lawmaker deletes post encouraging donations to family charged in Capitol riot

Sen. Mark Koran, in his Facebook post, described them as "a good family!"

Related

Minnesota company agrees to pay $500K for for violating California air rules

Birchwood Laboratories Inc., an Eden Prairie-based distributor of various consumer products, has agreed to pay $500,000 to the California Air Pollution Control Fund for violating strict air quality rules, the Sacramento Bee reports. The first of four $125,000 installments was paid in August.