Taiwanese couple in US Virgin Islands receive long prison sentences for illegal coral trade

CHARLOTTE AMALIE, U.S. Virgin Islands (AP) — A Taiwanese couple in the U.S. Virgin Islands has received what the Justice Department says are the longest prison sentences ever issued for illegal coral trade.

Ivan Chu was sentenced Wednesday to 30 months in prison while Gloria Chu was sentenced to 20 months. Each will also have to pay a $12,500 fine.

The couple pleaded guilty in March to illegally importing more than $194,000 worth of protected black coral to a company in St. Thomas from 2007 to 2009.

The U.S. Justice Department said in a statement that the couple used to have export permits but could not obtain them as of 2007 because they did not have a certificate of origin for the coral.