Mass. Artist Sentenced In Ivory Smuggling Case

A Massachusetts scrimshaw artist was sentenced to 30 days in a county jail Monday for buying sperm whale teeth from the black market.

Charles Manghis, 55, of Nantucket, was convicted last year of one count of conspiracy to smuggle wildlife, six counts of smuggling wildlife and two counts of lying to investigators.

Manghis, who etched pictures onto whale teeth for sale, was convicted of conspiring with a Ukrainian man to import the whale teeth in violation of international treaties and a federal endangered species protection law.

U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner sentenced Manghis to less than the five months sought by prosecutors, but more than the straight probation sought by his attorneys, saying she tried to balance his "serious regulatory offense" with his contributions to the art community. Gertner said Manghis' status as a highly regarded artist "can't excuse running afoul of these regulations."

She sentenced Manghis to serve 30 days of intermittent confinement as a condition of two years of probation. Manghis was ordered to serve the 30 days at the Barnstable House of Correction on weekends. Gertner also sentenced him to six months of home detention, once he finishes serving the 30 days. He was also ordered to pay a $50,000 fine.

Manghis apologized to his family and said he recognizes that he broke the law.

"I especially regret that it has taken me this long to accept my responsibility," he said.

Authorities seized 375 whale teeth, as well as some pieces of elephant ivory, from Manghis' home and from some of his buyers.

His lawyer, Max Stern, said Manghis was convicted based on specific whale teeth he bought on eBay and from a Ukrainian man, Andriy Mikhalyov, who was sentenced to nine months in prison and deported.

Stern said Manghis is not an ivory dealer, but someone who bought ivory and made scrimshaw.

"His scrimshaw work was as an artist," Stern said.

Sperm whale are an endangered species. Prosecutors have said that buying ivory from the black market encourages illegal poaching of animals for their ivory.

This program aired on August 1, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.


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