2 NY jewelers plead guilty to illegal ivory sales

July 12, 2012 9:47:26 AM PDT
Two New York jewelry store owners have admitted peddling more than $1 million worth of ivory pieces harvested from endangered and threatened elephants.

Mukesh Gupta and Johnson Jung-Chien Lu pleaded guilty Thursday to illegal commercialization of wildlife. They forfeited more than $1 million in ivory and made a $45,000 donation to the Wildlife Conservation Society.

The Manhattan district attorney says the case represents the largest illegal ivory seizures in recent New York state history.

State environmental law bans selling or offering to sell ivory without a special permit.

Getting the permit requires proving the ivory was harvested before elephants were listed as an endangered or threatened species in the U.S.

The Asian elephant was listed as endangered in 1976. Its African counterpart was listed as threatened in 1978.