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Former St. Cloud Professor Sentenced For Smuggling Ivory, Rhino Horns

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A former St. Cloud State University professor has been sentenced to pay a $500,000 fine for smuggling elephant ivory and illegally exporting rhinoceros horns from the U.S. to China.

Yiwei Zheng pleaded guilty to violating the federal Lacey Act, which bans trade of wildlife, fish and plants that have been illegally taken or sold, in January.

Zheng smuggled the items between 2006 and 2011. The items he tried to smuggle include potted flower carvings, a fan and a carved lion all made of elephant ivory.

Assistant United States Attorney Laura M. Provinzino said Zheng earned more than $1 million through his online business, Crouching Dragon Antiques, which included items made of the smuggled ivory and rhinoceros horns.

The $500,000 fine will go to the Lacey Act Reward Fund, which is used to reward people who provide information about wildlife crimes and to pay the costs of caring for fish, wildlife or plants that are held as evidence in ongoing investigations.

The judge also sentenced Zheng to three years' probation, a six week period of intermittent confinement and to perform 150 hours of community service.

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