NEW YORK – An auction house administrator has been sentenced in New York to a year and a day in prison after admitting a role in smuggling about $1 million-worth of items made from rhinoceros horn, elephant ivory and coral.
Joseph Chait was sentenced Wednesday in federal court after pleading guilty this year to two criminal charges. The 38-year-old Chait is the senior auction administrator of the I.M. Chait Asian art gallery and auction house in Beverly Hills, California. Chait also was fined $10,000.
Assistant Attorney General John Cruden noted in a news release that the African Elephant, the rhinoceros and coral are acutely threatened species that have undergone huge population losses in recent decades.
Prosecutors say Chait personally falsified customs forms, saying the precious items were made of bone, wood or plastic.